The Congress party is gearing up for a major overhaul in Rajasthan, where the rift between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot has widened to calamitous levels just months before elections, sources told NDTV on Wednesday.
Mr Pilot, who led a failed rebellion against Mr Gehlot three years ago, this time held a day-long fast against his own party’s government on Tuesday, accusing it of overlooking corruption charges against their opponent, BJP’s Vasundhara Raje.
Sources in the party said that the Congress leadership has taken note of the situation and has decided to intervene soon. The party’s general secretary in charge of Rajasthan, Sukhjinder Randhawa, has met with the Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and briefed him about the situation in the state.
According to sources, the party’s top leadership has indicated a “major surgery” will take place in Rajasthan to resolve the crisis and restore unity in the party. However, the sources said that the timing and nature of the surgery will depend on several factors, including feedback from other senior leaders and the political situation in the state.
The Congress leadership does not want to repeat the debacle in Punjab, where former chief minister Amarinder Singh, caught in a feud with rival Navjot Singh Sidhu, quit the party and formed his own outfit months ahead of last year’s assembly polls, sources said.
According to party insiders, the leadership has already indicated and supported Mr Gehlot in the hugely embarrassing tussle in the state, where it faces a tough challenge from the BJP in elections due later this year.
Mr Pilot’s latest confrontation is seen as his attempt to put pressure on the Congress leadership to settle the issue of who will be the key face of the party in Rajasthan, one of the few states it rules.
Defying a warning that his move would be seen as an “anti-party activity”, Mr Pilot sat on a protest fast in Jaipur a day ago. The absence of the Congress name or symbol at the demonstration stoked speculation that the 45-year-old may be spoiling for a confrontation that will drive him out of the party.