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‘Young’ Congress leader Sachin Pilot has had to eat crow in his confrontation with the Rajasthan Chief Minister, Ashok Gehlot. He could not take away the necessary number of MLAs required to become kingmaker or, even, Chief Minister, with the help of the BJP. His humiliation has been complete despite the face-saving ‘audience’ given to him by the party’s first family. Adding to his woes is the fact that Chief Minister Gehlot remains unrelenting as he has not only foiled the coup attempt, but also successfully resisted the pressure of the High Command to accept a compromise. Pilot’s return has been unconditional, necessitated by the fact that remaining out of the party would lead to eventual disqualification from the assembly for him and his followers.

It cannot be said, therefore, that there has been anything like reconciliation between the two groups. Defeat, remember, is an orphan and, if there is going to be any further defection activity, it will be from Pilot’s camp. Whatever promise that has been made to him regarding a more important role at the national level is largely empty as nobody is going to respect a leader who has been beaten in his own territory. So, he will have to bide his time, waiting for a chance to exact revenge. It can be confidently said that this was only the first round in the battle for political dominance in Rajasthan.

The BJP did what is could do to help Pilot in the overall pursuit of its ‘Congress-free’ Bharat objective but it was clearly not enough. It is even thought that the BJP’s state unit did not have its heart in the fight because of reluctance on the part of former CM Vasundhara Raje to accept Pilot into the fold. This is because of caste orientations that place the Gujjars (Pilot’s base) as natural challengers to the Rajputs. There has been speculation that Raje even collaborated behind the scenes with Gehlot to thwart the coup.

The status-quo has been maintained in favour of the established elite, who wish to bequeath their respective political legacies to family rather than the upstarts. Usually, elections would resolve such issues more effectively, but BJP’s Amit Shah is not one to await events. It can be confidently said, therefore, that matters will come to a boil again at the first opportunity. Sachin Pilot is down but not out.