Rajasthan Congress leader and former deputy CM Sachin Pilot on Thursday evening skipped Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s dinner party at his official residence, triggering talks about possible infighting on the anvil. Gehlot had last evening invited Ajay Maken, Congress’ Rajasthan incharge, and MLAs at his official residence in Jaipur.
Thursday’s dinner party was attended by MLAs loyal to Gehlot while Pilot, who is in Delhi, skipped the gathering.
Maken, who is in Rajasthan, is individually meeting party MLAs in a bid to end factionalism that is brewing within the party. He is seeking feedback from them on issues such as Cabinet expansion, the performance of the government and to constitute district Congress committees and appointments.
Maken’s visit assumes significance as Cabinet expansion and political appointments to accommodate his men have been among the long-standing demands of Pilot. Pilot had last year revolted against Gehlot, leading to a crisis that was put to rest after an intervention by the central leadership, Pilot was even sacked from the post of deputy CM and RPCC chief. Maken met 115 MLAs during his two-day visit to the state.
Pilot was then assured that his concerns would be taken into account and a committee was set up to look into his grievances.
Mahesh Joshi, Congress’s chief whip in the Rajasthan Assembly, described the discussions at the dinner party as an exercise to strengthen the party in the state.
Congress came to power in the state in December 2018 and has completed almost half its term. The party has 106 MLAs in the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly. Apart from this, the government has the support of 13 independent MLAs.