Ending days of suspense, senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot, who led the party to a surprise victory in Rajasthan, was named as the new chief minister of the state on Thursday night.
His name was cleared by party president Sonia Gandhi after he emerged as the clear choice for the top post in the meeting of newly elected Congress MLAs earlier during the day.
The final decision had been left to Sonia, after the MLAs pased a resolution authorising her to name the new chief minister.
The announcement of Gehlot’s name was made by Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh in a crowded a press conference at the party headquarters here.
This will be Gehlot’s second term as chief minister. He had earlier held the post between 1998 and 2003.
Widely referred to as 'Mr clean' in state politics due to his clean image, Gehlot, the 57-year-old backward leader, was always a frontrunner for the post.
Although the majority of MLAs supported his candidature for chief ministership, the announcement of his name was delayed by consideration of complex caste equations in the state.
Singh said the Congress would stake claim to form the government on Thursday night itself. He said that along with
96 party MLAs in a House of 200, the Congress had received the support of 11 Independents to take it across the majority mark.
Responding to queries about the appointment of a deputy chief minister, Singh said the matter would be left to Gehlot and state Congress chief C.P. Joshi to discuss it with the party high command.
Gehlot told the Hindustan Times soon after being named chief minister that he has “several challenges” facing him.
Along with dealing with “debt liabilities to the tune of Rs 83,000 crore”, Gehlot’s government will have to address the “pending demand of the Gujjar community for Scheduled Tribe status”, he said.
“We will face a challenge in providing one lakh jobs every year in a financially weak situation,” Gehlot said.
Gehlot also said his government would strive to provide a corruption-free government.
Besides, “dubious land deals struck with private players” during the tenure of the Vasundhara Raje regime would be reviewed, Gehlot told HT.
Other leaders who were in the fray for the CM’s post were C.P. Joshi, Sis Ram Ola, Girija Vyas and Jat leader Hema Ram Chaudhary.