Pilot, the new mass leader of Rajasthan

Pilot, the new mass leader of Rajasthan

Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot in an election rally in Tonk. (Photo credit: Suman Sarkar)

Trained to be a pilot but his first job was that of a journalist. And his father's sudden demise got him into politics.

Though the Congress chose Ashok Gehlot for the chief minister's post, the move has only risen the stature of Sachin Pilot from that of a 'Gujjar' leader to that of a mass leader.

Sachin was appointed the deputy chief minister three days after the deadlock continued on who will lead the desert state.

Back in 2013, when the Congress faced its worst defeat, winning just 21 seats against the BJP's 163, party president Rahul Gandhi handed the reins of the state to the next-gen leader, a two-time parliamentarian and son of former leader Rajesh Pilot who died in 2000 in a road accident in Dausa.

Within months, he changed his image of an urbane politician and slipped into his father's shoes, often described as a farmers leader.

A young Sachin, who was then 36-years-old, stood back and filled the party with enthusiasm and gradually earned his electoral stripes.

The road was not smooth for him, he braved the ruling BJP who had a thumping majority and solved the hurdles in his own party. In 2014, four months after he took over as the party chief, the Congress miserably lost in the Lok Sabha polls in Rajasthan.

Out of the 25 seats, the Congress scored a 'duck' and even Sachin couldn't retain his seat. But once again, instead of leaving the responsibility, he garnered the support and filled the workers with zeal and enthusiasm.

Sachin travelled for over 5 lakh km, through the length and breadth of Rajasthan, to strengthen the party at the grassroots level and ensure its comeback. The result was evident in the panchayat and municipal elections in Rajasthan and the latest by-polls held earlier this year, winning two Lok Sabha and one Assembly seat.

He did not fly helicopters in the desert skies, the passionate driver that he is, Sachin covered 800 km in one day to meet the bereaved families of two jawans killed during the 2016 surgical strikes.

Sachin Pilot during an election campaign

Known as one of the most accessible politicians, Sachin was elected as MP from Rajasthan twice, from his father’s constituency of Dausa in 2004 and from Ajmer in 2009.

Sachin was also the minister of state for communication and IT in 2009 and minister of state (Independent charge) for corporate affairs in 2012.

But winning the Assembly elections against the BJP's lone Muslim candidate by a whopping margin of more than 54,000 votes have shown a level of maturity in successfully walking many a tightrope of his urban and rural 'avatars'.

When it comes to reaching out to the tech-savvy youth or engaging with the grassroots worker, the 41-year-old Stephanian used the skills he picked up from the MBA classes at Wharton Business School and the newsroom of BBC back in 1996. Moreover, the journalistic skills acquired from the field and the desk are visible when he debates on English news channels.

Sachin was tight-lipped when his supporters were protesting for his candidature and may have failed to ensure a chief ministership for himself but he has anointed the 'saafa’ (traditional headgear) around his head by giving a tough time to the 68-year-old veteran Congressman in the last 72 hours.