Congress president Sonia Gandhi has accepted one of former Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot’s main demands of removing Avinash Pande, the general secretary in charge of the state. The move had been critical for Mr Pilot, ending a weeks-long revolt that pushed the state government to the brink.
Team Pilot had alleged that Mr Pande was too close to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and had not given a fair hearing to his side. His removal was strongly demanded by the camp apart from a leadership change in the state and adequate portfolios for ministers loyal to Mr Pilot.
With Avinash Pande’s removal and Ajay Maken’s appointment as the new general secretary in charge of Rajasthan, the stage is set for the new committee to look into Sachin Pilot’s issues and concerns. Sonia Gandhi’s confidant Ahmed Patel and KC Venugopal are the other members who will try and sort out the problems Sachin Pilot faces with Ashok Gehlot.
Sachin Pilot welcomed the move on Twitter, saying, “Congratulations to Ajay Maken ji on being appointed the general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan. Your appointment will definitely boost the hopes of Rajasthan Congress workers.”
Mr Gehlot also tweeted:
I congratulate Shri Maken and hope that his vast organisational experience will help strengthen the party and energise the party workers in the state. Eagerly looking forward to working with him.
— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) August 16, 2020
With over three years left and a number of promises to be fulfilled, the party realises a course correction is critical and needs to get its house in order, sources in the Congress say. The threat of poaching by the BJP also remains very real, they add.
The new decisions taken after the truce are expected to find a face saver for Sachin Pilot and a lasting solution to ensure the stability of the Rajasthan government. A change in the state’s leadership has been ruled out but with age and time on Sachin Pilot’s side, his camp says it is a matter of time before he is projected as the face of the Congress in the state in the near future.
Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot were seen shaking hands on Thursday and smiling for the cameras as they met for the first time since their public clash, two days after the former rebel and 18 other MLAs returned to Jaipur, ending their revolt.
A truce was announced on Monday after Mr Pilot met with Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who reassured him that his grievances would be addressed. Five days later, the Congress government won a trust vote in the assembly, securing itself for at least six months.