Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra will pass through Rajasthan in the cold days of December but political temperature within the party is high, with leaders supporting former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot demanding solutions to existing issues.
Even as infighting between the Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Pilot camps continues, Gurjar leader Vijay Singh Bainsla has dared the party to organise the yatra without resolving pending issues of the community he belongs to.
At the same time, the opposition BJP is geared up to launch its ‘Jan Akrosh Movement’ from November 29 to counter the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ and corner the Gehlot government at a time when it completes four years next month.
The yatra is scheduled to enter Jhalawar in Rajasthan from Madhya Pradesh in the first week of December.
During almost 20 days in the state, it will traverse through Jhalawar, Kota, Sawai Madhopur, Dausa and Alwar.
Party sources said the yatra will pass through 18 assembly constituencies, of which 12 are held by the Congress.
Several of the constituencies are dominated by Gurjar and Meena communities.
Pradesh Congress Committee chief Govind Singh Dotasra, has however, expressed confidence that the yatra will be held successfully.
The fight between Gehlot and Pilot over the chief minister’s chair, which started with the party’s victory in the 2018-assembly elections, has led to two political crises in the state.
One erupted in July 2020 when Pilot and MLAs supporting him rebelled against Gehlot.
The other was in September this year when MLAs loyal to Gehlot rebelled against the party high command’s probable move to make Pilot the new chief minister when Gehlot was in race for the Congress president post.
Ahead of the yatra, party senior leader Ajay Maken, who along with Mallikarjun Kharge had come to Jaipur to hold the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting on September 25, has expressed his unwillingness to continue as the Rajasthan incharge.
In a letter to the party president recently, he cited the developments on September 25 when Gehlot loyalists held a separate meeting at the residence of Parliamentary Affairs minister Shanti Dhariwal, because of which the CLP meeting could not take place.
After the meeting, more than 90 MLAs, all Ashok Gehlot loyalists, submitted their resignations to assembly speaker CP Joshi.
The resignations have not been accepted so far and are pending with the speaker.
Party sources said Maken is unhappy that no action has been taken against the three leaders held responsible for the parallel meeting of September 25: Dhariwal, Chief Whip Mahesh Joshi and Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) chairman Dharmendra Rathore so far despite issuing them notices.
“There has been a clamour for action against these three leaders for their act which is considered “indisciplinary” by the party,” a source in the Congress said.
Rajasthan SC/ST Commission chairman and Pilot loyalist MLA Khiladi Lal Bairwa said Maken was pained because no action was taken against the leaders even after giving them notices.
Bairwa urged the party high command to make necessary changes immediately, saying that will bring good results.
Assembly elections in the state will be held next year.
Prior to Maken’s letter, party leaders in Hadoti region — comprising Kota, Bundi and Jhalawar — from where the yatra will pass through, held press conferences in their respective districts, demanding the party leadership that their issues be resolved before Gandhi and team arrive there.
These leaders are considered close to Pilot.
“All of us believe that there will soon be a decision on the state of confusion,” Rakesh Boyat, PCC member and former Bundi Zila Pramukh, had then said.
On the other hand, a leader loyal to Gehlot said the issue pertaining to the CLP meeting ended the moment the chief minister offered an apology to Sonia Gandhi.
“When the chief minister himself has apologised, there is no point in taking action against the three leaders,” he said.
“All that is going on is just pressure politics against the chief minister before the yatra,” he added.
Amid these conflicts, Gurjar leader Bainsla accused the state government of not resolving various pending issues pertaining to the community he belongs to and threatened to disrupt the yatra.
Bainsla, also the leader of Gurjar Aarakshan Sangarsh Samiti, wants previous reservations for the community members in educational institutes and jobs.
“We are fed up and I dare the government to take out the yatra in Rajasthan without resolving our pending issues,” he said.
“It is not necessary to block railway tracks always. We have blocked highways and roads in the past and can do so this time too,” he added.
Responding to this, PCC chief Govind Singh Dotasra said no one has the courage to stop the yatra.
“If there is any issue, it can be raised and the government and the party is ready to hear it out,” he said.
In a word of caution, Health Minister Parsadi Lal Meena said anyone attempting to disrupt the yatra will have to face the consequences.
“Lakhs of Congressmen are with Rahul Gandhi,” he said.
Amid the ongoing situation, Gehlot held a meeting with the party leaders on Friday to review preparations for the yatra.
Dotasra has also made it clear that there will be no changes in the yatra route.
On the other hand, the BJP has planned ‘Jan Akrosh’ rallies in each assembly and they will begin on November 29 and continue till December 17. Public meetings will be held during the rallies and the Congress government’s failure will be highlighted, a BJP leader said.