The episode relating to Sachin Pilot’s resignation is hyped beyond the limit it deserves. Why? Main reason is he has been an important justification for the ODNE (Once distinguished Now Extinguished) journalists to support the political system which alone they feel can restore their eminence in the country.
No doubt, Sachin has been a hardworking, suave, well-educated and media savvy political leader. But does he really have the kind of achievement in Rajasthan, as the ODNE journos want us to believe? If it were really so, how come then not even one-third of his party’s MLAs are prepared to stick their neck out in his support openly in front of their party’s top brass?
Fact is, neither Sachin nor Gehlot nor any other can be given the credit for Congress’ unprecedented success in 2018 state elections in Rajasthan. The party rebounded from 21 in 2013 to 99 in 2018 (which rose to 107 gradually by now). The sole responsibility for this which meant disaster for BJP can be traced to Vasundhara Raje’s leadership.
Certain electoral facts relating to Rajasthan may be recounted. Raje, despite her reported differences with her party’s top leaders at national level on several issues, almost forced the state party to travel the way she wished and had crashed. Till last minute of 2018 poll, she exuded complete confidence in her performance. What had gone wrong?
Factually speaking, she had during her 2013-18 tenure amended land laws and labour laws to give boost to trade, industry & job creation, vested rights to women as family head to receive benefits under government schemes, implemented plan for low priced meals for poor, and undertaken several yatras, to name some of her initiatives. Why did she fail then? Political observers attribute it to her imperious attitude, inaccessibility, and not taking the stakeholders along with. What is less talked about is her indifference to some core values of her party. For example, it was under her regime that several hundreds of helpless Hindu refugees from Pakistan were pushed back to Sindh to face immediate forcible conversion. Such cruelty, which violates the fundamental international principle relating to human right of ‘Non- Refoulement’, was not resorted by even Congress government. For a party which has been credited with a bold humanitarian legislation like the CAA, this act vested it a never erasable stigma.
Soon after these refugees were made to return against their fervent plea to adjoining Sindh province of Pakistan there were media reports of forced religious conversion of 500 persons in that province. Significantly, this cruelty came in early part of 2018- the year of the state poll. In a nutshell, she was found by many political observers of functioning in a typical monarchical style – insensitive and autocratic that did not suit democratic system.
There can hardly be doubts about the severity of public anger her style of functioning. In 2018, BJP’s tally had come down from a dizzy 163 to a paltry 73. As many as 13 out of her 19 cabinet colleagues were swiped out. A popular slogan in the state viz., ‘Modi tujhse bair nahin, Raje teri khair nahin‘ summed up the situation. This was vindicated further, when in a matter of less than 8 months, BJP led by Modi won 25 out of 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
It is therefore reasonable to suppose that it was the severity of the public ire that essentially architected Congress victory rather than any individual leader. This is not to deny that Sachin may have put up much greater efforts than rest of his colleagues.
From the activities of the ODNE journos it appears that they are trying to mislead BJP about the basic reason for Congress victory in Rajasthan and hype the value of Sachin Pilot. They would be happy if BJP, their bete noire make a suboptimal decision.
It may serve its interest therefore not to get swayed by media projections of Sachin-Gehlot controversy and jump in. Hurry, temptation for immediate grabbing of power, short-sightedness are ill-advised. The political wisdom says it perfectly suits one’s interest if two of its enemies fight and finish each other. The only compelling case will arise if by joining hands with Sachin, the party genuinely sees scope to work for the betterment of the people of the state. In such a case, Sachin forming a regional party should be a welcome development as this opens up the scope for a coalition government. However, again, there need not be any acrobatic appeasement of the other party in the matter of allocation of ministerial responsibilities like what Shivsena did to form MVA coalition. Things must be decided in proportion to the strength of coalition partners- simple.
However, in order to execute such a strategy, the state unit of BJP should be united and also clearheaded. Unreasoned objections, if entertained, are likely to harm its interest.
BJP has shown an incorrigible tendency of stickiness to few established regional leaders and alliance partners. It misconstrues this as a virtue of loyalty. Its unwillingness to review the working of chief ministers at state level, even when those hurt its core values and voters consistently harmed its electoral success in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, and of course in Rajasthan. It therefore needs to overcome such weakness and be ready to choose new leaders, if need be, to ensure that the party treads the path of its ideology rather than bowing to the whims of one or two. It has little to lose further after the drubbing of 2018. It can only gain hereafter. Sachin episode has just opened the prospect for its turnaround. Adhering to its ideology and using that opportunity will be in the interest of people of Rajasthan and the party, both.