The crisis in the Congress in Rajasthan that nearly brought down the government led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has blown over. The group led by Sachin Pilot has reiterated its loyalty to the party, though the stand-off cost him the posts of Deputy Chief Minister and State party chief. The truce is an outcome of the realisation on both sides that their positions had become self-destructive and unsustainable. Mr. Gehlot faced the risk of losing the government, while Mr. Pilot stared at the unnerving prospect of a life outside the Congress. The turmoil in Rajasthan has also been yet another occasion to note with deep concern the tendency of the judiciary to overstep its remit set by law, brazen partisanship of the Governor, and misuse of central agencies to tilt the political balance. The crisis was primarily internal to the Congress, but the Bharatiya Janata Party’s maximalist approach to capture power at all costs was evident. The unseemly power struggle had derailed governance in the State in the midst of a pandemic. Now that a settlement has been reached, the Centre and the State, the Bharatiya Janata Party and all sections within the ruling party must come together to combat the pandemic.
The Congress is facing the most severe crisis in its history and it cannot afford any complacency in keeping its house in order. The party is constantly at the receiving end of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s relentless onslaught and in March it lost the government in Madhya Pradesh, which it had won in 2018 along with Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. According to Mr. Gehlot’s own admission, there was no communication between him and Mr. Pilot ever since the formation of the government in 2018. That is a sad commentary on the party. Mr. Pilot has said he resorted to rebellion only after his grievances went unheeded. This brinkmanship might have taught them both, and the party’s central leadership, some lessons for the future. The resolution of the crisis took the intervention of former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who commands the loyalty of both. He could have resolved it earlier or even preempted the crisis altogether. There is no single model for running a political party, but the nature, history and character of the Congress impel it to be consultative and deliberative in its internal and external conduct. As Rajasthan demonstrated, Mr. Gandhi has a role to play in facilitating this. Mr. Gandhi has been focused on building a critique of the Bharatiya Janata Party and its government but such politics will be effective only when reinforced by a strong organisation. He has strong opinions on what the Congress should ideally be, but he has no option but to start with what it currently is.