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Rajasthan political crisis: Why Gehlot vs Pilot war is not surprising

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Jaipur, Sep 26: Rajasthan has plunged into yet another political crisis with MLAs loyal to Ashok Gehlot threatening to quit if the Chief Minister's post goes to his bitter rival Sachin Pilot.

Gehlot is unwilling to cede any space to Sachin Pilot in Rajasthan, while Pilot has been eyeing CM's post for a long time now.

Rajasthan political crisis: Why Gehlot vs Pilot war is not surprising

Given the account of the long-standing feud between Gehlot and Pilot, the fresh political crisis that has erupted in Rajasthan is not surprising.

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Congress rout in 2013

The Gehlot vs Pilot war dates back to 2013 when the Congress was at its lowest ebb in Rajasthan winning just 21 of 200 seats in Assembly polls. Pilot, a young Congress leader was given the task of reviving the grand old party's fortunes in Rajasthan.

Pilot, who is said to be close to Rahul Gandhi, took the lead while Gehlot was inducted into a screening committee for Punjab polls in 2016 and was made a general secretary in Delhi in 2017.

2018 crisis

In 2018, Gehlot and Pilot were at loggerheads for the chief minister's post soon after the Congress won the Assembly elections as the high command then chose Gehlot as the chief minister overlooking Pilot's efforts.

Sachin Pilot staged a rebellion with 18 Congress MLAs staying away from legislative party meetings, defying the chief minister and the party.

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Pilot speaks against Gehlot

The feud between the top two leaders in Rajasthan became wide open in 2019 with Sachin Pilot going in public to criticise the law and order situation in the state by saying the government needs to work "more seriously" on law and order in the state.

Pilot alleged that the situation in his state had "deteriorated" and that the government needed to do more.

This was seen as a direct attack on his Gehlot, who held the home portfolio and caused quite a bit of embarrassment for the government.

Later in January 2020, criticising his own government over the deaths of 107 children in Kota's state-run JK Lon Hospital, Sachin Pilot said their response to the infant deaths could have been more sensitive.

Pilot said it was not a small incident and also stressed that accountability for the entire episode should be fixed.

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2020 crisis

Ashok Gehlot alleged that Pilot has been planning a political coup with BJP since the formation of the government in 2019.

Rajasthan police issued notices to Pilot to record his statement in connection with the alleged attempts to "topple" the Congress government. This became another flash-point with where Pilot showed first signs of rebellion.

Pilot, skipped two crucial meetings called by CM Gehlot and stayed put at a hotel in Manesar along with 18 MLAs in his camp amid reports that he is in talks with the BJP.

Ashok Gehlot
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Ashok Gehlot

Later, the Congress sacked Sachin Pilot as the Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister and the state party chief, and two Rajasthan ministers, who had joined the Pilot camp, were dropped from the cabinet.
Though Congress managed to find a solution to the 2020 rebellion, the infighting between the Sachin Pilot and Gehlot camp remain a problem for Ashok Gehlot time and again.

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