The BJP’s decision to move a no confidence motion against the Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan, as the State Assembly convenes on Friday, echoes the message that the party high command sent to Jaipur and conveyed through national general secretary P. Muralidhar Rao to party MLAs — the Gehlot government is not likely to complete its tenure.
Speaking to party MLAs in Jaipur during a meeting of the legislative party, Mr. Rao is reported to have said there was no way, looking at the events of the last five weeks, that the Gehlot government could survive its full term.
Sources said Mr. Rao was of the opinion that the return to the party fold of rebel Congressman Sachin Pilot was not “tenable in the long run” and that Mr. Gehlot had only kicked the can down the road.
The BJP has maintained that it has nothing to do with encouraging a rebellion in the Congress ranks but the return of Mr. Pilot to his party has exposed some chinks in the BJP’s armour as well.
MLAs have been told to wait for the next big conflagration to hit the Congress, “because this wasn’t the last or conclusive one”.
“What had never happened earlier in Rajasthan happened in the last couple of months, and it’s not likely that such an event will not have consequences in the future,” said a senior leader in the Rajasthan BJP.
Sources told The Hindu that in former chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s meetings in New Delhi with the party’s national president J.P. Nadda and general secretary B.L. Santhosh, the question of leaving her out of any political developments in the State was raised by her. She was, say sources, assured that since the party had not encouraged the rebellion and was not in any way close to inducting Mr. Pilot into the BJP, she was not brought into the loop.
“She was told that it was the party’s wish not to embroil her in needless controversy,” said a source.
Revamp of State unit
The events in Rajasthan have also, however, made the BJP realise that its own house needs to be set in order in the State and that plans to alter the authority structure in the unit could be tougher than earlier thought. Ms Raje had, in 2017-18 strongly resisted any attempts to appoint Union Minister Gajendra Shekhawat (who enjoys the Central leadership’s blessings) as State unit chief.
The party had to fly out (and bus back in) 20 of its MLAs from Rajasthan to Gujarat at the height of the recent crisis. All of this does not bode well for the BJP.
Mr. Pilot’s rebellion in fact, failed at two levels — one at the personal level for himself and his ambitions with regard to State politics, and secondly for the BJP’s central leadership to effect a shift in leadership in its own State unit, using Mr. Pilot’s entry as an alibi to effect a change in the power dynamic.
As of now, therefore, the message the Central leadership has sent across is to take the reverses on the chin, and watch the equations between Mr. Gehlot and Mr. Pilot carefully.