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Ashok Gehlot to call the shots in Rajasthan

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Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot seems to be in no mood to settle terms with former deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot. Gehlot gave a hint of this in the presence of the cabinet ministers and the AICC general secretary Ajay Maken. Gehlot in a media conference that was organised to mark the second anniversary of the Congress government in the state said, “Rajniti mein jo dikhta hai woh hota nahi, aur jo hota hai won dikhta nahi”.

It hinted that speculations relating to Pilot’s return to the Cabinet were unfounded. Gehlot without naming anyone said one should not go by the political gossips in Delhi as such gossips are always unfounded and are spread by people who think that they are established leaders.

Gehlot said when the rebels led by Sachin Pilot camped in Delhi and were conspiring against his government, he welcomed them back when they asked to forgive and forget.

It was a clear hint that he was not against anybody returning to the party but in the broader context, the return of the rebels did not guarantee that Gehlot would bow to pressure.

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Pilot, sources said, understands that he cannot take on Gehlot for long and hence is trying through Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi for rehabilitation in both the party and in the government. But sources said they do not want to pressurise Gehlot on this issue.

Ashok Gehlot’s clout with high command

The death of Ahmed Patel has also created a void and it was largely speculated that Gehlot would go to Delhi and take up the party’s assignment leaving the chief ministership behind. But after a meeting with Sonia Gandhi, sources said, Gehlot drove home the point that if he was forced to leave the chief ministership, the government would fall.

He also managed to convince the central leadership that only he could keep the flocks together and the Congress would complete its full term in Rajasthan only under his leadership. Except for Rajasthan, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, and Puducherry, the party is not in power anywhere else and cannot afford to risk losing another state.

Sources said Sonia Gandhi had no option but to keep Gehlot in his home state. However, there is a possibility that he would be given the dual responsibility and made the treasurer of the party following Patel’s death.

Ashok Gehlot in a strong position

The 125-year-old Congress is facing economic crunch and is finding it tough to run its show as the funds are not forthcoming because the party is neither in power in the Centre, nor in many states except four.

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Maken has referred to Gehlot as a tall figure of the Congress in the state, but he also recognises Pilot as an asset to the party and is keen on his rehabilitation.

Gehlot is unlikely to oblige Pilot and he is keen to accommodate his loyalists and those, who sided with him and the party when Pilot led the rebellion.

He is in no hurry to expand his Cabinet but may agree to do some political appointments which he has been deferring for some time. Maken has also been insisting on political appointments. But the reorganisation of the party is also the need of the hour.

Gehlot is likely to announce the political appointments only after the party’s state executive is formed. Maken, who is in the state, will be keen to form the party’s executive to strengthen the organisational base.

Maken understands that Gehlot not only presides over the Congress government in the state but will have a large say in the party’s organisation too. But Pilot, who led the rebellion against Gehlot, has lost credibility which he is finding difficult to rebuild.

 

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