Procrastination on the part of the Congress high command appears to have got the better of the party unit in Rajasthan endangering the survival of one of the two state governments it runs in the country. The latest allegations, coming as they do from none other than chief minister Ashok Gehlot, raise legal, moral and ethical issues that need to be addressed comprehensively.
Mr Gehlot’s claims that his former deputy and Pradesh Congress Committee ex-president Sachin Pilot tried to undermine his government at the behest of the BJP and that money changed hands in the process are of a very serious nature. They pose an immediate challenge to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and his team who not yet shown signs of getting a grip on the happenings in state units. The firefighting by the party spokesperson will hardly suffice to control the flames coming out of the fire that Mr Gehlot has thus set.
The troubles in the Rajasthan unit are not new. It has been an uneasy calm in the party and the government ever since the leadership chose Mr Gehlot as chief minister following the 2018 elections over the claims of Mr Pilot, who as PCC president contributed heavily to the party’s poll performance. The young leader lost out in the turf war and was forced to quit the Cabinet despite enjoying strong support of former Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
While the two leaders must have a lot of answering to do, the primary blame lies with the party leadership. The ill-advised move by the Gandhi family to draft a reluctant Mr Gehlot as a candidate in the party’s presidential election, his withdrawal and the bad blood it created have together precipitated the present crisis.
There is very little time the party high command has on its hands to settle the lingering issue before facing elections next year. It must admit that a problem exists and then honestly address it. Allowing issues to drift is indeed a strategy but not beyond a point.