Congress is assured of a victory in Rajasthan assembly election in 2018. This is what Sachin Pilot is saying to his close confidants – “People have already decided and now no one can stop them from coming back in power.” He is not completely out of place but ‘surprise’ is the beauty of a democracy and more so when you are dealing with ‘argumentative’ marwaris. Assembly election in Rajasthan has now become devoid of public issues. No matter of public importance is as big an issue in this election as is the caste equation and ego tussle of the top leaders.
In the run up to the election, Vasundhara Raje, the incumbent Chief Minister, was facing a huge anti-incumbency. Fraught with allegations of alienating the old cadre of party, corruption, favoritism and heavy handedness, the central BJP had concluded that the ‘only’ reason they were not been able to gain back the desert state was – Vasundhara Raje. But she stood steadfastly against all odds from within and outside and bulldozed the election field into a level playing ground. Vasundhara Raje appealing people to stop alternating between parties in every election and repeatedly recalling 2008 debacle in internal meeting of the party are two things weighing heavily on her mind.
No one is talking about corruption, development or anti-Raje sentiments in Rajasthan. Situation is certainly a gain for BJP while congress has conceded significant space to the opponent; or we should say Raje has seized the advantage back from Sachin Pilot led Rajasthan congress.
Self-assured Sachin Pilot is putting more effort to undermine the former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot than in winning more seats for congress. Trying to piggyback Rahul Gandhi, driving him out of air strips and ‘managing’ headlines on TV and newspapers seems to be ‘favorite’ past time of Pilot. Achievement of Sachin Pilot is that he has bought Manvendra Singh – A Rajput, Vijay Punia – A Jat, Mool Chand Meena – a tribal into Congress fold.
‘Rookie’ pilot is missing out on calculating the ‘dead weight’ piling up on his flight which is yet to take off.
There is no doubt that Rahul Gandhi’s rallies are getting more traction and his direct attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi is been lapped up by the masses. But when it comes to winning the assembly elections, it is the local equation and caste calculations which matters the most. Congress has not been able to make any of the local issue as the main plank of the assembly election in Rajasthan.
Sidelined by Rahul Gandhi, Ashok Gehlot has tried to raise issues of Bajri ban impacting common people, corruption in bureaucracy and purchase of crops on MSP but Sachin Pilot faction has been busy discussing distribution of ministries among themselves instead. Though one cannot count out Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan but due to lack of any visible cue and pilot concentrating hard to isolate Gehlot, the cadre is confused and have adopted wait and watch approach.
It seems Sachin Pilot is created a fight within congress in this assembly election and is assured that if he survives the battle of one-upmanship; he will become Chief Minister automatically. However, with BJP gaining ground and issues of public interested vanishing in thin air, Rajasthan is still an open game or may be a lost battle for Congress.