Bhanwar Lal Sharma, a 7-term member of the Rajasthan Assembly, is credited with bringing a sense in rebel Congress leader Sachin Pilot (42) to end the farce of pulling down the Congress government led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
A national figure in the Brahmin Samaj as the president of All India Brahmin Federation since 2011, Sharma was the outspoken leader in the rebel camp and a key associate of Pilot. Sources said Pilot panicked on Sharma slipping out of his camp on Sunday since he commanded support of at least five other rebels among the group of 19 who can join the Gehlot camp along with him.
The 75-year-old veteran met Congress general secretary, in charge of the organisation, K C Venugopal on Sunday and expressed deep regrets for his actions and pledge the support of five more MLAs. Venugopal, in consultation with party strategist Ahmed Patel keeping an eye on the Rajasthan crisis, asked Sharma to immediately return to Jaipur and meet the chief minister.
There was a panic in the Pilot camp on Sharma's sudden disappearance from the hotel where all rebels were holed up. Even a check was made on Sharma's Jaipur residence but he was not there. He spent Sunday night in hiding with a relative in Delhi and left for Jaipur early morning on Monday. The Congress had planned to present him at a press conference with the CM Monday afternoon.
Pilot realised that his game is up since the veteran Sharma commanding respect of all in the Congress had fled with all the secret plans of his group. He swiftly decided to call it quits by meeting Rahul Gandhi on Monday and a message was sent to Gehlot not to do anything that sabotages the ultimate truce.
Pilot's meeting with Rahul was fixed by the latter's younger sister and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, whom Pilot got in touch to convey his return to the Congress fold, realising that Gehlot had sailed through the crisis and he won't be able to do anything after August 14 when Gehot would have proved his majority.
Rahul knew there is no threat to the government at all in Rajasthan but he opted to be magnanimous to accommodate Pilot even at this late hour. As a senior party leader explained why Rahul, Priyanka and their mother Sonia Gandhi did not let Pilot go. He said: "The leadership is not developed overnight. We had invested heavily in Pilot to develop him as a formidable leader. He is young and has committed a mistake in impatience. That was juvenile and we are willing to let bygones be bygones. Things should be normal for him after a short cooking off period."
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