Ashok Gehlot operated with Trojans in Sachin Pilot camp and hidden friends in BJP

CM Ashok Gehlot, on the other hand, effectively aided by an AICC team and his comrade in many missions, Ahmed Patel, made deft moves in advance before engaging and exasperating Pilot in an open political war that ended with Pilot’s colleagues dese...

BCCL
Ashok Gehlot
NEW DELHI: “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win,” Sun Tzu had said in the Art of War. That’s how Sachin Pilot’s ‘grand revolt’ ended though some tame efforts were made to give a ‘win-win’ spin to a visible surrender.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, on the other hand, effectively aided by an AICC team and his comrade in many missions, Ahmed Patel, made deft moves in advance before engaging and exasperating Pilot in an open political war that ended with Pilot’s colleagues deserting him and seeking peace with the CM and the Congress high command.

In the Congress tradition, the AICC brass and the Chief Minister have left it to the Gandhi siblings to bask in the glory of leading the return of the prodigal Pilot. The party’s balladeers have been entrusted to whisper tales of the siblings’ behind-the-scene interventions in ending the rebellion. Pilot can now let it be known that he would like to work in AICC, while privately worrying about the perils of a trust deficit he created with the Gandhis and AICC brass. Sources said he won’t get back his lost PCC presidentship or the deputy CM’s posts and it remains to be seen whether the next ministry reshuffle in Rajasthan would be used to wean away Pilot’s remaining friends.


To many who were privy to Ashok Gehlot’s 30-day battle for supremacy, it was clear that he was working on a twin plot. As events unfolded, it seemed Gehlot had a few Trojan horses in the Pilot camp, while he also cultivated ‘invisible friends’ in the Rajasthan BJP to checkmate the rebellion.

It climaxed over the weekend as the BJP leadership was forced to ferry some MLAs to Gujarat amid a buzz about resistance from the Vasundhara Raje camp. AICC organisation general secretary KC Venugopal, who was with Gehlot in Jaipur, rushed back to Delhi to join Patel. Then popped out Banwarlal Sharma, the veteran Rajasthan rebel — whom the Gehlot camp had accused of offering bribes to Congress MLAs and whom Pilot considered as his general — along with half a dozen rebel MLAs, saying that they wanted to return to the Congress. Soon more rebel MLAs ‘liberated’ themselves from the resort and headed to meet the CM. How many of them were Trojans would be a question that would haunt Pilot for long. “We are happy all issues have been settled amicably and I am confident Gehlot government will run all the more smoothly now,” Venugopal told ET.

Pilot and his fans, unlike silent striker Jyotiraditya Scindia, have themselves to blame. Their tactless moves for close to a year, projecting Gehlot as an obstacle and Pilot as the wronged but determined seeker of the CM’s chair had adequately alerted Gehlot to discreetly make counter moves.
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As Pilot was stuck for 30 days with 18 MLAs and no more joining his camp to give 30 MLAs BJP required, and with BJP itself looking a divided house in Rajasthan, the CM and the AICC brass tapped the impatience and despair in the Pilot camp. Aided by AICC team comprising Avinash Pandey and Ajay Maken, Gehlot also made sure the remaining MLAs were safe, while legal eagles such as Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi fought it out in courts, driving the fear of disqualification among rebels as the session drew closer. Gehlot braved the might of the Centre, the BJP leadership and serial raids by central agencies and his team remained united and in high spirits. The Congress leadership will flaunt Pilot’s tame return as a message for those leaders who have been plotting to cross over. The first fallout is likely to be felt in the Punjab Congress.
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