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Ashok Gehlot vs Sachin Pilot: As Fresh Trouble Brews Between Two Cong Stalwarts, A Timeline of Rajasthan Govt's Bumpy Ride

By: News Desk

Edited By: Majid Alam


Last Updated: September 26, 2022, 11:53 IST

New Delhi, India

Congress MLAs loyal to CM Ashok Gehlot are upset over buzz that rebel leader Sachin Pilot is likely to succeed him. (Image: PTI/File)

Congress MLAs loyal to CM Ashok Gehlot are upset over buzz that rebel leader Sachin Pilot is likely to succeed him. (Image: PTI/File)

The rift between Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot intensified in 2018, when Congress overlooked Pilot in favour of Gehlot for the chief minister's post

The Congress government in Rajasthan plunged into a crisis on Sunday as MLAs loyal to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot submitted their resignation letters over a possible move to appoint Sachin Pilot as the next CM.

Ashok Gehlot, who is contesting the party’s Presidential Election, will have to step down from the CM’s chair since he cannot hold two posts at the same time. Sachin Pilot, who has been eyeing CM’s chair for a long, is likely to be elevated to take up Gehlot’s job.

Rajasthan Congress Crisis LIVE | Miffed MLAs Refuse to Meet Party Observers, Demand Gehlot’s Continuation as CM

However, the arrangement has not gone well with the majority of the MLAs who have decided to quit ahead of the meeting to decide on the developments.

The Ashok Gehlot government has remained in the eye of the storm ever since Congress won the assembly elections in 2018. From challengers within the party like Sachin Pilot to a tough opposition, Gehlot has walked a tightrope in over the last four years. News18 takes a look at some of the events:

Congress’ rout in 2013

The seeds for the turf war in Rajasthan between Gehlot and Pilot were sown long ago. In 2013, after loss in election, Pilot was given the task of reviving the grand old party’s fortunes in Rajasthan.

Pilot, said to be among Rahul Gandhi’s inner circle, took the lead while Gehlot was inducted into a screening committee for Punjab polls in 2016 and was made a general secretary in Delhi in 2017.

In 2018, the Congress won the election in Rajasthan and the high command overlooked Pilot in favour of Gehlot for the chief minister’s post, upsetting Pilot.

Pilot Skips Gehlot’s Meet

Sachin Pilot, upset since being denied the chief minister’s in 2018, staged a rebellion in July. Including him, 19 Congress MLAs stayed away from legislative party meetings, defying the chief minister and the party.

Pilot’s Open Criticism

In September 2019, Deputy CM Sachin Pilot went in public to criticise the law and order situation in the state by saying the government needs to work “more seriously” on law and order in the state.

The comment came in the backdrop of opposition leader Gulab Chand Kataria attacking Gehlot government on law-and-order situation in the state.

Criticism Intensifies in 2020

Later in January 2020, Pilot again attacked the state government over the death of 107 children in Kota hospital and said the response to the infant’s death could have been more sensitive. He stressed that it was not a small incident and the accountability for the entire episode should be fixed.

Gehlot vs Pilot Goes Public

In July 2020, the rift between CM Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot intensified when Rajasthan police issued notices to Pilot to record his statement in connection with the alleged attempts to “topple" their Congress government.

ALSO READ | How Mistrust in Jaipur Made Over 90 MLAs Pull the Plug on Sachin Pilot’s CM Dream

As per reports, the notice sent to Pilot by the Rajasthan police’s Special Operations Group in the probe against BJP for toppling the Congress government triggered the rift between the two stalwarts of Rajasthan congress.

Sachin Pilot’s rebellion in 2020

The notice by the Rajasthan police was the point where Pilot showed first signs of rebellion. In the same month, Sachin Pilot rebelled bringing Ashok Gehlot government on the brink of collapse.

Pilot, skipped two crucial meetings called by CM Gehlot and stayed put at a hotel in Manesar along with 18 MLAs in his camp amid reports that he is in talks with the BJP.

Gehlot got the Congress MLAs loyal to him to hole up together, first at a hotel on the outskirts of Jaipur and then at another resort in Jaisalmer, keeping them away from the alleged temptation to switch over to the rebels.

Later on July 14, the Congress sacked Sachin Pilot as the Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister and the state party chief and two Rajasthan ministers, who had joined the Pilot camp, were dropped from the cabinet.

Tough Challenge from Sachin Pilot loyalists

Though the Congress was able to sustain the government after 2020 rebellion, but the dissident voices from the Sachin Pilot camp remains a problem for Ashok Gehlot time and again.

In May 2021, Congress MLA Hemaram Choudhary, a former minister and six-time legislator, emailed his resignation to speaker CP Joshi for not being made a minister. Choudhary had resigned on February 19, 2019 as well but withdrawn it.

In the same month, another MLA from the Pilot group, Ved Prakash Solanki went in public to threaten the government saying he would resign if the interests of his workers were not taken care of. Three more MLAs, Madan Prajapat, Mukesh Bhakar and Murari Lal Meena, have also expressed concerns over the resignation as Pilot loyalists weren’t rewarded after the rebellion.

Law and Order Problem

Ashok Gehlot government has faced constant attack from the opposition BJP following instances of violence and riots in the state.

In August this year, a nine-year-old Dalit boy from Jalore district in Rajasthan died after he was beaten by his upper caste teacher for allegedly drinking water from his pot. The incident brought Gehlot government criticism from both the opposition and Sachin Pilot.

However, one of the prominent incidents occurred in July this year with the horrific murder of tailor Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur. The violence posed a major challenge to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot ahead of the 2023 Assembly election.

There was a major law and order problem following the death and a sharp increase in religious polarisation across the state.

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first published:September 26, 2022, 10:06 IST
last updated:September 26, 2022, 11:53 IST
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