Sachin Pilot’s decision to fold up his rebellion and return home marks a big comedown for the young man who took off from Jaipur last month with the hope of upsetting Ashok Gehlot’s applecart and becoming Rajasthan chief minister.
But if a compromise could be found to what looked like an imminent break-up a few days ago, the reason was a strong advocacy within Congress that Pilot should not leave the party. It was further helped by Pilot’s own realisation that he was in choppy waters after raising the stakes. There were enough leaders in Congress who felt that even if the Gehlot government survived, of which the CM was confident, it would leave the party badly battered.
Pilot’s departure would have come after the defection of the high-profile Jyotiraditya Scindia and the fall of state governments in MP and Karnataka, and would have reinforced the perception that Congress was a sinking ship and a rudderless organisation. It would not only have made the party more vulnerable to dissensions but also further deflated its stock with the masses.
Additionally, after Scindia, Pilot would have been the second close Rahul Gandhi “friend” to rebuff the party, which would have further helped the BJP’s campaign against the Gandhi scion.
Seniors as well as young members lobbied the Congress leadership that while Pilot had done the unpardonable by playing BJP’s game, everything should be done to persuade him back.
In contrast, Congress managers felt retaining the GenNext leader after a fullblown crisis would win the party a few brownie points about its political skills in the wake of repeated failures at the hands of rival BJP.
Moreover, sustained pressure from Congress to seek disqualification of the rebel MLAs and the looming assembly session appeared to go against the calculations of the rebel camp. The mutual compulsion ensured that both sides kept negotiating despite their respective grievances with each other. This took what appeared an imminent divorce off the table, ultimately resulting in a rapprochement.