Updated: February 10, 2021 8:36:19 am
As the self-imposed deadlines for political appointments and cabinet expansion keep getting delayed in Rajasthan, former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot has been throwing his weight around, through farmer rallies in the state, to raise the farmers’ issue and leverage the rallies to consolidate his support base and send a not-so-subtle message to the party high command that he still draws heavy crowds.
On Tuesday, Pilot addressed a huge rally for farmers at Bayana in Bharatpur, the second of his three rallies which have been announced so far. The first one was on February 5 in Dausa, and the third one is proposed for February 17 at Chakshu in Jaipur.
Following Pilot’s rebellion last year, the Congress party had removed him as a minister and as party state president in July 2020, apart from removing his loyalists Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena, as ministers. The State Executive unit, all other departments and cells of Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee (RPCC), followed by the party’s district and block committees were also dissolved.
Although the high command brokered peace, it has had to ensure that each faction is suitably represented in the party and the organisation. And so far, only the State Executive has been announced — six days after missing the December 31 deadline announced by party’s Rajasthan in-charge Ajay Maken.
Maken had also announced a January 31 deadline for appointing chairpersons for boards of corporations – this has also been missed. As for cabinet expansion, Maken said that it cannot happen as the budget session is here – it begins Wednesday – and so the expansion can only happen once the session ends. However, by-elections to four Assembly seats are also expected soon afterwards, and hence the appointments and the expansion may be further delayed.
Former ministers in Pilot camp – Vishvendra Singh, Ramesh Meena and Pilot himself – are expected to be adjusted back in the government. While this would mean a vindication of the Pilot camp, not many in Ashok Gehlot camp will be happy; at Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meetings during the rebellion, the Congress MLAs had passed a resolution seeking strict action against the rebels and some were assured of being suitably rewarded for their loyalty.
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While Gehlot camp stalls cabinet expansion and Maken deliberates a balancing act for appointments, Pilot is ensuring that the voice of people attending his rallies reaches Delhi – to the Parliament, and to the AICC headquarters.
Interestingly, Pilot has chosen the Assembly constituencies of his loyalist MLAs – Dausa’s MLA is Murari Lal, Bayana’s MLA is Amar Singh and Chakshu MLA is Ved Prakash Solanki – all of whom were with Pilot during his rebellion. Other MLAs seen flanking Pilot during his rallies are Vishvendra Singh, Ramesh Meena, Gajraj Khatana, and Rakesh Pareek, among others.
On the day of mahapanchayat, the journey to the mahapanchayat grounds is an event in itself. While on his way to Bharatpur on Tuesday, Pilot’s long convoy was welcomed at multiple places, including Bassi and Dausa, where he inaugurated an e-library of the local Advocate Association.
At Bayana, a visibly energised Pilot said that the Centre should withdraw the three farms laws while the Parliament is on and that for 76 days, the farmers have been protesting peacefully, and that their Gandhian way of protesting will force the government to withdraw the laws.
On his rallies being a show of strength, Pilot told The Indian Express, “Mr Rahul Gandhi has been raising the farmers’ issue from day one, both within the House and outside the Parliament. And AICC, party PCCs, all of us have been raising this demand for the last two months. And now Mr Gandhi is coming (to Rajasthan), it’ll further help and support the demand of the farming community and I am doing whatever I can to raise the farmers’ issues.” He said that some protests organised so far in the state had been “symbolic” and hence there was a need to raise the issue more strongly.
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