The Congress followed the same script for Rajasthan on Friday as it had for Madhya Pradesh 24 hours earlier, but with a minor amendment. Unlike Madhya Pradesh, where Jyotiraditya Scindia refused to be the deputy to Kamal Nath since he is already a deputy leader of the party in the Lok Sabha, the Congress picked 67-year-old Ashok Gehlot the chief minister of Rajasthan and 41-year-old Sachin Pilot as his deputy.
While the party's feedback from its legislators indicated more support for Gehlot, the party also needed to respect Pilot's wishes since he as the state unit chief had rebuilt the party in Rajasthan in the past five years after it was decimated in 2013 Assembly and 2014 Lok Sabha polls in the state.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi brokered the peace between the two leaders after several meetings. Apart from being sworn in as the deputy chief minister, Pilot is also set to get some of the key portfolios in the Gehlot-headed government.
Gehlot is a two-term chief minister of the state, having served from 1998 to 2003 and 2008 to 2013. During his first stint, he had Kamla Beniwal and Banwarilal Bairwa as his deputies.
Addressing a press conference, Gehlot promised he and Pilot would give "good governance". Pilot said their objective was to get the Congress a good mandate in the state in 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Rajasthan has 25 seats, all of which the BJP had won in 2014.
"Mera aur Ashok Gehlot ji ka jaadu puri tarah chal gaya hai (Gehlot and I worked our magic in the state)," Pilot, in a reference to Gehlot and his father having been magicians by profession, said. He said the party's manifesto would be implemented immediately. Referring to Gehlot's 'kaun banega crorepati' quip to a question on who will be CM at a press conference last month, Pilot said in a lighter vein: "Who would have known that instead of one there will be two 'crorepatis'. The leaders are scheduled to meet Governor Kalyan Singh in Jaipur on Friday evening.
According to sources, Pilot relented about his claim to the top post after Gandhi held at least three meetings with him. Senior party leaders K C Venugopal, Avinash Pande, and Jitendra Singh were also present during the meeting Friday.
"The united colours of Rajasthan," Gandhi tweeted Friday afternoon with Gehlot and Pilot on his either side.