The Congress, in a major shakeup in leadership as a fallout of the Rajasthan crisis, has removed Congress General Secretary in-charge of the state Avinash Pandey and replaced him with former Union minister Ajay Maken with immediate effect.
The sacking of Avinash Pandey is in line with Sachin Pilot’s one of the long-pending demands. The move comes days after Pilot called it a truce with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot ending weeks-long revolt that pushed the state government to the brink.
An order in this regard was signed into effect by Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal on Sunday.
“The party wholeheartedly appreciates the contribution of Shri Avinash Pandey,” the order further said.
Also, a three-member committee comprising senior party leader Ahmed Patel, KC Venugopal (AICC General Secretary, Incharge Organisation) and Ajay Maken (AICC General Secretary, In-charge, Rajasthan) was set set up to “oversee and follow up smooth resolution of the recent issues in Rajasthan”.
Press Releases regarding appointment of G.S. Rajasthan & 3 Member Committee approved by Hon'ble Congress President
1. Appointment of General Secretary In-charge of Rajasthan
2. Three Member Committee to oversee & follow up the smooth resolution of recent issues in Rajasthan pic.twitter.com/mqW97Qa0Ad
— AICC Communications (@AICCMedia) August 16, 2020
Ahmed Patel will be the senior most member on the committee as he played the pivotal role in resolving the issue that had threatened the survival of the Ashok Gehlot government after the Pilot camp raised the banner of revolt against it.
The removal of Avinash Pandey as general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan and the formation of a committee to address the grievances of legislators were the primary demands made to the Congress leadership by former deputy CM Sachin Pilot.
Team Pilot had alleged that Pandey was too close to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and had not given a fair hearing to his side.
Meanwhile, following Pandey removal, the chief minister tweeted: “I welcome the decision of CP Smt. Sonia Gandhi ji to appoint Shri Ajay Maken as AICC General Secretary in-charge of Rajasthan.”
He also congratulated Maken and hoped that his vast organisational experience will help strengthen the party and energise the party workers in the state.
I congratulate Shri Maken and hope that his vast organisational experience will help strengthen the party and energise the party workers in the state. Eagerly looking forward to working with him.
— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) August 16, 2020
Congress leader Sachin Pilot also extended his wishes to Ajay Maken.
श्री @ajaymaken जी को राजस्थान प्रभारी महासचिव नियुक्त किए जाने पर हार्दिक बधाई। आपकी नियुक्ति से निश्चित ही राजस्थान कांग्रेस के कार्यकर्ताओं की उम्मीदों को बल मिलेगा। उज्ज्वल भविष्य की कामना के साथ मैं अजय माकन जी का वीर भूमि राजस्थान में स्वागत भी करता हूँ।
— Sachin Pilot (@SachinPilot) August 16, 2020
Indicating an end to the rebellion in the Congress’ Rajasthan unit, a meeting took place between Pilot and his loyalists and the three-member panel formed by interim party chief Sonia Gandhi to look into their grievances, at the war room in the Congress headquarters in New Delhi on August 10.
The breakthrough, which had threatened the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in the state, followed after Pilot met top party leaders Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi earlier on Monday. The two Gandhis subsequently held discussions with Sonia Gandhi, who in turn, announced the formation of a three-member panel.
After Sachin Pilot and the rebel MLAs gave the second CLP meeting a miss on July 14, the Congress announced the removal of Pilot as the Deputy Chief Minister as well as the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief.
Interestingly, a day after Pilot was removed, then Rajasthan in-charge Avinash Pandey had said that the Congress’ doors have not closed for Sachin Pilot.
“The party’s doors have not been closed for Pilot. May God give… good sense and he realises his mistake. I pray that he comes out of the elusive trap of BJP,” Pandey had said in a tweet.
On July 12, the sulking leader had declared open rebellion against his party by claiming that he has the support of 30 MLAs.
The whole political crisis began on the night of July 10 when the Rajasthan Police sent a notice to Pilot, asking him to record his statement over an alleged attempt to bring down the government.