Sachin Pilot To Begin Election-Year with Farmer, Youth Rallies

Congress's Sachin Pilot -- credited with a big role in the party's victory in Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh through ground-level election work -- will begin the election year in Rajasthan with an elaborate mass contact programme, one that his political rival Ashok Gehlot will probably not be attending. While the Chief Minister remains busy with the last budget before the election, Mr Pilot has planned five key "Kisan sammelans" (farmers' gatherings) across the state.

The rallies will be held in Nagaur, Hanumangardh, Jhunjhunu and Pali on 16, 17, 18 and 19 -- tucked neatly between Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra and the beginning of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's women's rallies that begin on January 26. On January 20, he will hold a youth conference at Jaipur's Maharaja College.

Sources close to Mr Pilot have denied that the move is a challenge to the leadership in the state. The 45-year-old is using the mass contact programme as a mandate to go back to the people, they said.

Mr Pilot firmly believes that Rajasthan is his "karam bhoomi" and wants to remain politically active in the state, especially since the Congress is already on the roll with the Bharat Jodo Yatra, they said.
 
The plan has apparently been cleared with Rahul Gandhi during the Bharat Jodo Yatra. "As long as there is no change in Rajasthan, I wish to hold you rallies in Rajasthan," sources quoted him as telling Mr Gandhi.

Seen as a key contributor to the Congress victory in Rajasthan in 2018, Mr Pilot has been waiting since for his reward. The post of Chief Minister went to Mr Gehlot, who appeared to have a bigger support group among the party MLAs and emerged the victor in the infrequent run-ins with Mr Pilot.

That Mr Gehlot has the bigger heft among the MLAs became clear during the elections for the Congress chief's post last year. More than 90 of the MLAs launched an open rebellion against the party's Central leadership after reports that once Mr Gehlot takes over the post of the Congress president, Mr Pilot may succeed him as the Chief Minister.

Mr Pilot maintained his silence and focused on Himachal Pradesh, where he was made the state in-charge. When the party's victory was attributed by critics to the BJP infighting, he said the Congress "should get some credit".

Regarding the rout in Gujarat, where Mr Gehlot was in charge, Mr Pilot said the situation in the two states were different and the party needs to "go back to the drawing board".



Originally Published at NDTV News-India-news

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