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Congress leadership plans for drastic changes in Rajasthan

The process will begin soon with a cabinet shuffle, followed by organisational changes and finally a new chief minister
Sachin Pilot.
Sachin Pilot.
PTI file picture

Sanjay K. Jha   |   New Delhi   |   Published 26.09.21, 01:53 AM

The Congress leadership appears to have decided to initiate the process of drastic changes in Rajasthan that will culminate in Sachin Pilot taking over as chief minister much before the next Assembly election in 2023.

While there are no indications of any plan to force chief minister Ashok Gehlot to resign immediately as was done with Amarinder Singh in Punjab, sources said the road map is clear in Rahul Gandhi’s mind. “The party will have to offer Rajasthan a new deal if we dream of retaining power,” a senior leader said, arguing that Gehlot had played his innings with three terms as chief minister.    

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The dominant view in the Congress is that change is inevitable and that the party will have to go to the polls in 2023 under the leadership of Pilot who played a critical role in the party’s comeback in 2018.

The process will begin soon with a cabinet shuffle, followed by organisational changes and finally a new chief minister. Party strategists believe the new chief minister should be given time to make an impact, unlike in Punjab that has barely five months to go before the polls.

Rajasthan is vital to the party’s future plan as it goes to the polls just before the parliamentary election in 2024, setting the tone of the public discourse for the big battle. Congress strategists believe the party cannot build a formidable challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi without winning Madhya Pradesh and retaining Rajasthan in December 2023. Gujarat and Karnataka, which will vote in 2022 and 2023, are the other two states that will draw the political trajectory of the Congress.

Pilot, who held two meetings with Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi over the last few days, is not interested in any role in Delhi, sources said. Amid speculation about being shifted as general secretary, sources said he had conveyed his desire to continue in Rajasthan.

Forcing a change is not easy in Rajasthan because, unlike Amarinder, Gehlot still commands the support of the majority of MLAs. Gehlot is reluctant to accept any other assignment but may be persuaded to give up and that exercise can take some time.



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