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1 post, 5 aspirants for CM

india Updated: Dec 10, 2008 01:08 IST
KS Tomar

Hectic lobbying was witnessed on Tuesday in the Congress camp in Rajasthan to elect a leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) following its victory in 96 Assembly segments out of 200.

While former CM Ashok Gehlot has emerged a front runner, Girija Vyas, chairperson of the National Commission for Women, Sis Ram Ola and CLP leader Hema Ram Chaurdhry are also reported to be in the race.

Sources said at least four Congress rebels who won met Gehlot and assured him of their support.

A meeting of the newly-elected MLAs will be held on December 11 and AICC leaders — Digvijay Singh, Birendra Singh, Madhusudan Mistry and Rajasthan in-charge Mukul Wasnik — will reach here on Wednesday. The meeting was scheduled for Tuesday but it was postponed to have a consensus on one name.

The Congress wrested power from the BJP, which won 78 seats as against its earlier strength of 120 in the outgoing House.

A senior Congress leader said: “Due to the defeat of influential Jat leaders, the Congress High Command may not have any problem in putting its weight behind Gehlot who has got a strong lobby in the AICC,” he said.

Sources said that Girija Vyas was also close to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and she was in the race as she is a Brahmin, acceptable to the Jats.

Deliberations in the party have already started on having a Jat as a deputy chief minister or Assembly speaker. Names doing the round are CLP leader Hema Ram Chaudhry and Union minister Sis Ram Ola, a Jat community leader.

When asked who would be the next chief minister, Gehlot said: “It is for the MLAs and the party High Command to decide. I am just a party worker and am ready to take any responsibility that the party gives me.”

It is still unclear whether a compromise formula will be hammered out in keeping with Gehlot’s earlier tenure when he had two deputies in Kamala Beniwal and Banwarilal Bairwa, a jat and a dalit.