Sachin Pilot, who has openly revolted against the Congress and claims the support of 30 MLAs — enough to bring down the Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan – has not got an appointment with the Gandhis so far.
The 42-year-old Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister has been in Delhi since yesterday, with a group of MLAs loyal to him.
When he last spoke to the Gandhi’s emissary nine days ago, he reportedly laid out his cards.
Sources told NDTV that before any meeting, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and MP Rahul Gandhi decided to lay the grounds for negotiations if any.
The Gandhis conveyed their position through their trusted emissary, say sources, but this time, Sachin Pilot has refused to accept anything short of the Chief Minister’s post.
Nine days ago, the Gandhis reportedly told him he would, at some point, become Chief Minister but it would take time and that he was young enough to wait. After all, he was already Deputy Chief Minister, Congress chief in Rajasthan and in charge of five ministries.
Mr Pilot believes his move to settle for deputy to Ashok Gehlot in 2018, after the Congress’s victory in Rajasthan, did not pay off. Since then, the rift between Chief Minister Gehlot and his sulking deputy have only widened.
When Jyotiraditya Scindia quit the Congress in Madhya Pradesh in March, taking 22 MLAs and bringing down the Kamal Nath government, Mr Pilot was also reportedly in talks with the BJP.
“He had been working in tandem with Jyotiraditya Scindia to move away,” said sources, adding that the BJP had even hoped he would deliver during the Rajya Sabha elections but to their disappointment, it didn’t happen.
Allegations that the BJP was in talks with Mr Pilot for a takeover in Rajasthan peaked in last month’s Rajya Sabha election for three sets, when Chief Minister Gehlot alleged an attempt by the BJP to buy his party’s MLAs for a coup. Sachin Pilot openly discredited such talk, saying all Congress MLAs were intact, which, he said, was proved when the party won two of three Rajya Sabha seats.
Mr Gehlot ordered an investigation into alleged attempts to dislodge his government. For Mr Pilot, the breaking point was when he was summoned for questioning in the investigation by the Special Operations Group. A summons also went to Mr Gehlot, but it didn’t matter, according to sources close to Mr Pilot, since the investigators report to the Chief Minister.
“Nobody wants to leave his home, but can’t continue to put up with this kind of humiliation; my MLAs and supporters are extremely hurt and I will have to listen to them,” Mr Pilot told senior journalist Javed Ansari this morning.
The Congress leadership was aware of brewing trouble, sources say, but wanted some common ground before meeting with Mr Pilot.
When Mr Scindia quit the Congress, he claimed he had not been given an appointment with the Gandhis for nearly a year.