Sachin Pilot To Walk With Rahul Gandhi Days Before Yatra Enters Rajasthan

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Sachin Pilot To Join Rahul Gandhi's Yatra Days Before It Hits Rajasthan Turbulence

Jaipur:

Congress leader Sachin Pilot will join Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ on Wednesday, this time in Maharashtra, just days before it enters Rajasthan, where he’s been trying to replace Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. But this internal wrangling isn’t the only challenge Rahul Gandhi will face there. The Gujjar reservation question, too, awaits him.

The Gujjars, a community that Mr Pilot belongs to, have a long-standing demand for quota in education and jobs in the state.

“We will not let Rahul Gandhi enter Rajasthan,” said Vijay Bainsla, who heads the Gujjar Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti, a community outfit that his father Kirori Singh Bainsla once led. “We’ve had two agreements with the state government in the past four years, but there is no follow-up from the government,” he added.

There have been violent agitations too.

Mr Bainsla listed several pending issues: “There is no clarity on jobs that were advertised; cases filed against us (during agitations) have not been settled; 13,000 scholarships are pending for three years; and the backlog of recruitments with 5 per cent reservation has not been met.”

Gujjars form a major chunk of the population in districts on Rahul Gandhi’s route. The Yatra will first move to Madhya Pradesh from Maharashtra, and then enter Rajasthan from Jhalawar passing through the eastern districts of Baran, Kota, Sawai Madhopur, Dausa and Alwar before moving on to Haryana. These areas have been centres of violent protests by the community.

Pending demands, particularly those around quotas, have gained prominence again as Rajasthan — one of only two states where the Congress has chief ministers — is due for elections at the end of next year, just months ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha contest.

The leadership question remains pending, too.

In Jhalawar, Mr Pilot’s supporters have been echoing what he said two weeks ago about the wrangle, essentially renewing the demand that he be given the chair as part of a time-share promise made after the 2018 victory.

“The political uncertainty should be resolved before the Yatra enters Rajasthan,” said Suresh Gujjar, a state unit member from Jhalawar.

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Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot with children dressed as Jawaharlal Nehru on his birth anniversary. (File)

Mr Gehlot, who’s held on despite even the Gandhis calling for him to become the party’s national chief, is professing total commitment to the Yatra. He’s said it was discussed by his Cabinet, and that ministers and MLAs will work closely to ensure its success in Rajasthan.

Sachin Pilot has also promised a historic reception.

Both Mr Gehlot and Mr Pilot have walked with Mr Gandhi — though on different days — during the southern leg of the Kanyakumari-to-Kashmir Yatra, which began in September and ends early next year.

Both have also campaigned vigorously for the party in the past few days — Mr Pilot holding rallies in Himachal Pradesh that voted on November 12, and Mr Gehlot in Gujarat that votes on December 1 and 5. Results of those states are to come on December 8.

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