At the Pradesh Congress Committee office in Jaipur, change was conspicuous.
The banners had changed, the recognisable faces of former chief minister Ashok Gehlot and his bête noire CP Joshi, curiously missing from them. The mood of the workers was far from sombre, their excitement peaking over Union minister for corporate affairs Sachin Pilot taking charge as new PCC chief in a public meeting on a damp, dingy day at the PCC office.
If there were any chinks in the party’s armour, Sachin Pilot didn’t give them away as he went ballistic to confront the Vasundhara Raje government. Among the many axes he had to pick with the state government, he chose to hammer them where it hurt the most.
He blamed the government for failing to tackle the outbreak of riots in Pratapgarh that left three people dead. “The government failed to address the issue. The action that was to be taken was completely missing,” Pilot told a teeming crowd that extended right up to the horizon braving the rains and cold.
One couldn’t escape the irony. Days before the elections, the Gopalgarh riots in Bharatpur that had shaken the foundations of Ashok Gehlot government, had become a standard feature in the poll talk of the BJP leaders including chief minister Vasundhara Raje. Pilot upon taking charge, chooses the riots at Pratapgarh to confront the newly formed government over failed law and order.
If Pilot lunged at the BJP’s throat, he also made it clear that any politics of vengeance would be firmly dealt with. “If BJP plays a revengeful politics and touches any of the Congress party workers, it will have to first face Sachin Pilot. We are in the Opposition and will oppose the government if anything goes against the interest of the people,” Pilot said his voice amplified as Gehlot, leader of the opposition in Vidhan Sabha, Rameshwar Dudi, state in charge Gurudas Kamat and former PCC chief Chandrabhan looked on.
Former chief minister Ashok Gehlot too assured Sachin of his full cooperation, in his address he said how Pilot’s appointment heralded a generation shift in the politics of Rajasthan, the same way when he was appointed the PCC chief some three decades back. Gehlot went on to say how the young leaders then promoted in Congress are now serving chief ministers and Union ministers.
Chandrabhan tried to slip in a word for the party’s defeat by claiming that the leadership believes that there is lack of unity and discipline in the state unit, which possibly resulted in the defeat in polls.