No one in Rajasthan has the heart to tell Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot that foundation stones, by definition, come at the beginning and not the end.
With the elections likely to be announced anytime now, Gehlot has been crisscrossing the state, either attending foundation laying ceremonies of projects or inaugurating them one after another — more than 100 in the last 20 days — apart from making the fortnightly trip to his constituency, Sardarpura.
He even made an exception and inaugurated some projects during the ongoing shradh period, considered inauspicious by Hindus, but took care to save some of the big-ticket projects like the Jaipur Metro trial run and the Barmer oil refinery for the last.
A senior bureaucrat, who did not want to be named, says the first three years of Gehlot’s tenure were spent in trying to consolidate his position. “He was more focused on visits to Delhi and meeting the high command, so he was able to devote little time and attention to administration.”
However, in the last 18 months, after the high command made it clear that they would go to polls with Gehlot as their chief ministerial candidate, he has tried to speed up development.
Real vikas purush?
In recent months, Gehlot has tried to cover every community in Sardarpura — Malis, Rajputs, Jats and Muslims — under his various welfare programmes and even spent `3 crore on the development of each ward.
“He is a real vikas purush (man of development) and his return to power is a must so that the development drive in the state continues,” says Jodhpur Development Authority chairman Rajendra Solanki.
But now that Gehlot has exhausted all three chances — they voted for him in the last three assembly elections — will they indulge him again?
The bad roads, the slew of new colonies awaiting development, more than 40 slums lying unattended, stretch ahead like a bad omen. And then of course, there is the drinking water issue.
Over the years, the CM has added an IIT and NIFT to Sardarapura and built new office buildings for the high court and the municipal corporation, but forgotten to look into the water supply lines, the leaky pipes, the daily struggle of the people for drinking water.
“I think the Congress has understood that it is not returning to power and therefore imposing their names on stones to claim credit,” says state BJP vice-president Arun Chaturvedi.