Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge is expected to address the ongoing crisis within the Rajasthan state unit of the party soon, with reports claiming that there is a potential showdown between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot. This comes on the back of a recent push by Pilot to shore up his position in the state, and intensify efforts to stake his claim as the leading Congress leader in Rajasthan.
Kharge, who was appointed the party’s new general secretary in charge of Rajasthan, is seen as a key mediator in the ongoing dispute. Party sources say that Kharge, who has been actively monitoring the situation, is expected to take a decision soon on how to best handle the crisis.
The ongoing row between the two Congress leaders started after the party’s dismal performance in the recent Lok Sabha elections. While Gehlot is said to be of the view that the party’s state unit needs to be overhauled from the top down, others including Pilot, believe that more grassroots changes are needed. Pilot had recently visited Delhi to meet with Congress high command, including Rahul Gandhi, and has been meeting with other party leaders from across the state.
The current crisis is being seen as a proxy war between Gehlot and Pilot, with the latter reportedly seeking to strengthen his position within the party in Rajasthan. This has raised tensions within the state unit, with speculation about a potential leadership challenge looming large. Party insiders point to a growing sense of dissatisfaction among Congress workers in the state, with some reportedly feeling that Gehlot is out of touch with the grassroots level.
Kharge’s planned intervention comes after the Congress recently managed to win the three parliamentary constituencies of Sriganganagar, Bhilwara and Rajsamand in the state. However, the party lost out on a number of seats in the recent Assembly bypolls, with two out of three seats going to the opposition BJP.
Sources within the Congress have also said that the crisis in Rajasthan has wider implications for the party as a whole. With key state assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab on the horizon, the Congress needs to put its house in order if it is to make a serious bid for power in these states. The party is currently running the government in Punjab, but is seen as marginalised in UP.
Kharge’s intervention is therefore seen as an important step in resolving the ongoing crisis within the party in Rajasthan. However, it remains to be seen how effective his intervention will be in the face of a growing number of Congress leaders who are backing Pilot and calling for Gehlot to step down. Ultimately, the challenge for the Congress will be to unify its various factions and present a strong and united front ahead of key state elections.