Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai)

Truce hinged on three key demands

- Sunetra Choudhury letters@hindustant­imes.com

NEW DELHI : How did the Congress party go from reaching out to Rajasthan’s deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot and Rahul Gandhi expressing his “affection’’ for him, to removing him as the Deputy chief minister in under 24 hours? Hindustan Times has spoken to several key Congress leaders to piece together the events that led to Pilot’s exit as deputy CM and also as the Pradesh Congress Committee chief.

According to a senior Congress leader who spoke on condition of anonymity, Pilot placed three conditions before the party leadership that simply couldn’t be met. The first was that Pilot would be made chief minister in 2022, a year before the elections.

“He wanted a public committmen­t right away that in the last year, he would be the Chief minister. He wanted us to announce it to all ,’’ added the leader, who is involved in the party’s decisions at the highest level.

The second demand was that all of Pilot’s supporters would be given some position in the government -- not necessaril­y as ministers, but “rewarded” in some way, this person said -“made heads of corporatio­ns or any other bodies.’’

The third and final demand was that Avinash Pande, the general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan should be removed from his post. Pilot believes that Pande is biased towards Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and that the situation could return to normal only if another person was brought in his place.

“We really tried to bring him around but we couldn’t accept his condition. What if other leaders in other states started asking for this as well?’’ asked the senior leader.

Pilot didn’t respond to queries on whether he laid down these conditions, but one of his supporters said: ”But the Congress is not in power in other states. So why do they have this fear?’’

However, the senior Congress leader insisted that the party tried its best. He added that Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s brief to the mediators was simple -- try to bring Pilot around.

“Even till this morning, till before the CLP (Congress Legislativ­e Party) meeting began, we kept talking to him. All of us spoke to him-- his well wishers within and outside the party but he wouldn’t listen,’’ said the leader.

Hindustan times has confirmed that while Rahul Gandhi did not speak to him, Priyanka Gandhi did make a call to Pilot.

When the last call from the emissaries was made at around 1030 am on Tuesday and Pilot still wouldn’t budge, the party went ahead with its meeting and passed a resolution against him.

That’s when Randeep Surjewala announced , “We are sorry that Sachin Pilot and some of his ministers have gotten involved in a BJP conspiracy to bring down a democratic­ally elected government.’’ “I have never said or done anything in my life against the Congress party,’’ a second supporter quoted Sachin Pilot as having said soon after the decision.

“All I wanted was that the public humiliatio­n that Ashok Gehlot put me through should also be publicly acknowledg­ed and set right.’’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India