A day before June 11, the death anniversary of Congress leader Rajesh Pilot, there was speculation in Rajasthan about his son and former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot leaving the Congress and floating his own political party.
Surprisingly, Pilot remains quiet on the issue while other leaders right from Rajya Sabha MP Venugopal, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and others are denying the speculation.
Meanwhile, IANS contacted a few leaders who say that Pilot and Congress are synonymous with each other and there is no question of their separation.
"It is Sachin's compulsion that now he will have to stay in the Congress, while for the Congress also Pilot should be kept in the party. It is very important," said a senior leader.
He said, "Even the MLAs supporting Pilot do not want him to leave the Congress, nor can the Gandhi family and the central leadership afford Pilot's departure. This is the reason that after the Karnataka elections, the exercise to end the Gehlot-Pilot feud intensified in Delhi."
Gehlot recently said that the patch up with Pilot is permanent. Also, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Congress in-charge for Rajasthan said, "senior leaders should relinquish their love for the chair and pave the way for youngsters."
These statements prove that the Congress needs Pilot at this point of time, said sources.
Had Pilot wanted to leave the Congress, he would have taken the decision by now, said party workers.
Two days back, Randhawa said, "In Delhi we sat and discussed for 4 hours. Everyone has spoken including Rahul Gandhi and KC Venugopal. We talked to both the leaders. He was listened to carefully."
"Both have been told that you are an asset to the Congress. Both were asked to work together and they agreed. Everyone will be given responsibility according to the stature of the leader," he said.
Randhawa also made another statement a day ago: Elders must themselves give up the fascination for power. There is no need to say this. Elderly leaders should create milestones on their own, he added.
It is clear from Randhawa's statements that the Gandhi family and the central leadership of the Congress consider Pilot as the future face after the ageing first line of the Congress in Rajasthan, who can work for the party for a long time.
In such a situation, if the Congress forms the government again after the 2023 assembly elections, then there is every possibility of making Pilot the chief minister by citing the opportunities given to Gehlot so far.
If the government is not repeated then he will become the face of the Congress in the next elections in 2028.
This possibility is strengthened because last year the Congress high command wanted to make Gehlot the national president and hand over the CM's chair to Pilot, but on September 25 the situation changed due to the resignations of the MLAs.
After this, due to the rapidly increasing bitterness between Gehlot and Pilot, many occasions came when the Gehlot camp pressurised the high command to act against Pilot, but every time the central leadership, along with Gehlot, also called Pilot an asset for the Congress.
This is the reason that despite incidents like the hunger strike and padyatra against his own government, the high command did not even give notice to take action against Pilot. Sachin Pilot also understands that if he remains in the party then the future is bright for him but if he leaves the party then he will not be able to become the chief minister.
This is why Pilot has never given such a statement regarding the Congress from public forums, which may make it seem that he will leave the Congress.
Pilot supporter and MLA from Ladnun seat of Nagaur, Mukesh Bhakar had said in the public meeting held in Jaipur on May 15 that Gehlot "wants Pilot to leave the party. We will not go anywhere. He will stay here."
Recently state minister Murarilal Meena said that speculation regarding discussions about the announcement of a new party on June 11 are mere rumours. Nothing like that is happening.
These statements of the pro-Pilot MLAs show that they do not want Pilot to form a new party but to remain in the Congress.
As soon as Pilot leaves the party, political equations will change in the areas of the supporting MLAs, because each assembly seat has different caste equations.
In 2018, most of the MLAs had won on the basis of the Congress cadre votes and Pilot's supporters' votes.
The MLAs know that if Pilot breaks away from the Congress and forms a new party, it will be difficult for them to win without the cadre vote of the Congress.
That's why most of these MLAs do not want Pilot to leave the Congress and choose a different path.
In the 2018 elections, most of the MLAs got tickets only because of the efforts of Pilot. They want the Congress high command to unite Pilot and Gehlot so that the way is clear for them to get tickets for the next election with the support of Pilot.
Meanwhile, all eyes are on June 11 to see how things turn out; will Pilot form a new party, how many MLAs will be there with him, or will it be a show of strength for the Gehlot government.
Amid all these questions, Pilot is silent and hence there is all the more suspense among party workers.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)