Pilot meets Rahul again, party keen to give message of unity

New Delhi: Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot, an aspirant to the post of Chief Minister, met party President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday night for the second time in a day amid indications that party leader Ashok Gehlot would be leader of the legislature party in the state.

Pilot, who had a meeting with Gandhi earlier in the day, reached Gandhi’s residence at 10.30 p.m.

The meeting came hours after the leadership issue was settled in Madhya Pradesh, with Gandhi tweeting his picture with state party chief Kamal Nath and party MP Jyotiraditya Scindia, who were both chief ministerial aspirants. The smiling picture carried the line “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time – Leo Tolstoy.”

Kamal Nath was chosen as the new Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and both he and Scindia flew down to Bhopal to announce the decision.

Party sources said Gandhi is keen to give a similar message for Rajasthan as well.

Both in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the Congress missed the majority mark by two seats and is now dependent on some external support.

Earlier, Pilot, who stayed put in Delhi and decided to shelve his plan to return to Jaipur, appealed to party workers to maintain peace, saying he would “welcome” any decision that will be taken by the party.

Gehlot, who was planning to leave for Jaipur, was also asked to stay back in Delhi.

Pilot reportedly put up a strong claim to the post on the ground that he had galvanised the party after the defeat in 2013, when he was appointed the state party chief.

In the ealrier meeting, Gehlot and Pilot met Rahul Gandhi at his residence in Delhi where he was joined by his mother and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

Sonia Gandhi is understood to have counselled Rahul Gandhi over relying on “experience” as it was a verdict with a narrow margin of victory and a seasoned leader would be better equipped to deal with a situation in which the party would need the backing of MLAs belonging to the Bahujan Samaj Party and Independents, who won 13 seats. Most of them are Congress rebels.

The party won 99 seats and with its pre-poll alliance partner it managed to touch the halfway mark in the 200-member Assembly.