Rajasthan assembly election results 2018: ‘Gehlot is people’s leader:’ Rebels approach Congress with CM request
Early on Wednesday, newly-elected members of the Rajasthan legislative assembly from the Congress, as well as party rebels, started gathering at the residence of Ashok Gehlot in Jaipur calling for his selection as the chief minister.
Manju Meghwal, Laxman Meena, Vinod Kumar Lilawat, Shanti Dhariwal, Manju Panwar, Ameen Kagzi and rebels Ramkesh Meena, Kanti Lal Meena and Babulal Nagar were among those who went to meet Gehlot in the Civil Lines area of the Rajasthan capital.
Independent MLAs Kanti Lal and Ramkesh Meena said they are going to support the Congress party only on the condition if Gehlot becomes the chief minister.
“Gehlot is people’s leader and we are with him,” Ramkesh Meena, the Independent MLA who won from Gangapur city, said.
When asked if someone else is chosen for the top post, Ramkesh said, “This would be the party high command’s decision. But if the Congress wants to win a good number of seats in the Lok Sabha elections then Gehlot should be made the CM.”
The front-runners for the post are state Congress president Sachin Pilot as well two-time chief minister Gehlot after the Congress emerged as the single largest party in the Rajasthan assembly polls whose results were declared on Tuesday. It won 99 seats on its own and one more with the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).
Kanti Lal Meena, the Independent candidate from Thanagaji, also said 67-year-old Gehlot was the best option for the post “in his opinion”.
“I want him to hold the top post in the state as he is connected with the people of the state,” said Kanti Lal, another rebel leader.
“He is gained love and support of people throughout the country. I don’t know what would be the high command’s decision but Gehlot is the best person to hold the post,” he added.
According to Congress party leaders, both Pilot and Gehlot had been the two prominent faces of the Congress’ campaign in the state and had played an important role in the distribution of tickets among the 195 candidates.
The Rajasthan Congress has called a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) on Wednesday in which a one-line resolution is expected to be passed. The resolution will authorise the party president Rahul Gandhi to take a call on who the next chief minister of the state will be from the party.
A Congress leader said the selection of the chief minister will be based on its implications for the Lok Sabha election next year.
Pilot has made his debut in the assembly elections by defeating BJP’s lone Muslim candidate Yoonus Khan from Tonk. Khan is also a minister in Vasundhara Raje’s cabinet. The 41-year-old had been an MP from Dausa and Ajmer. Gehlot, member of the assembly from Sardarpura (Jodhpur) constituency, has been chief minister twice and is a five-time MP and has vast experience of state and centre level.
The last year or so, Gehlot had been given several organisational and national responsibilities. He is general secretary in-charge of the organisation, had been the election in-charge for Gujarat, where the Congress performed well despite losing the polls to the ruling BJP.
Pilot, on the other hand, is young and popular among the youth, has played a pivotal role in reviving the party in Rajasthan after it was reduced to 21 seats in the 2013 assembly elections. Under his leadership, the party has won four of the five assembly by-polls and two Lok Sabha by-polls.
The new Congress chief minister will have his task cut out as the BJP has been able to retain its vote share of about 38% in the state, while the Congress has witnessed a marginal increase in its vote share despite an undercurrent against the incumbent Vasundhara Raje government.
Also, it will have to take on a resurgent BJP which aims to retain its hold in the state for the Lok Sabha elections, said political expert Rajiv Gupta.
Congress leaders will also meet Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh on Wednesday to stake a claim to form the government.
Rajasthan Congress general secretary Sushil Sharma, “We have given a letter to the governor and have sought an appointment tomorrow (Wednesday). A high-level delegation will meet him tomorrow, he has given us the appointment of 7pm”.
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