As Ashok Gehlot not contesting may go against Congress, party may field his son
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As Ashok Gehlot not contesting may go against Congress, party may field his son

Jaipur/Jodhpur, Oct 6: The pro-change mood is palpable in various parts of the poll-bound Rajasthan. In Jodhpur region, however, the Congress faces an uncharacteristic problem.

The supposed Rahul Gandhi-push for Sachin Pilot, state Congress president, has made it apparent that party veteran Ashok Gehlot, a former Chief Minister, may not contest this time.

Ironically, despite a pro-change mood in favour of Congress, the possibility of Ashok Gehlot not contesting the polls this year has left many Congress workers and supporters anguished in the region.

“Sardarpura is the only seat out of 10 in Jodhpur region, the Congress won. This is a BJP bastion and now if Ashok Gehlot ji does not contest, our workers are slowly feeling frustrated. This may help BJP in some ways,” remarked Dinesh Bahadur, a Congress office bearer from the district – who came to Jaipur to insist with the leadership that Mr Gehlot needs to be fielded.

“If Mr Gehlot does not contest, our pro-Congress wave could turn against us. We need to be careful,” said Bahadur.

A few others accompanying him say they all are doing so “not at the behest of Ashok Gehlot”.

“Hum yeanh apne aap aye hae (We are here in Jaipur on our own. It is not only our desire that Mr Gehlot contests, we also want that Ashok Gehlot returns as Chief Minister. The Congress president Rahul Gandhi should get the message clearly,” said Arvind Joshi.

Meanwhile, Congress insiders say in order to minimise the damage from Mr Gehlot’s camp and supporters including Mali community- for Sardarpura seat Mr Gehlot’s son Vaibhav Gehlot may be fielded.

Junior Gehlot is already a Pradesh Congress general secretary.

But both the Congress stalwarts Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot may not be fielded as fielding either of them would only give wrong signals to the voters. Apparently, Mr Pilot is more particular about it as he says that “Congressmen and women should be ready to contest elections under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership and win it too”.

With regard Vaibhav Gehlot, during his father's stint as Chief Minister, there was charge of conflict of interest and suggested corruption.

Congress sources say a reputed Rajasthan based company had hired Vaibhav as a legal consultant and later when Mr Gehlot became Chief Minister, the company was given a massive contract of over Rs 450 crore for constructing a dam across the River Kalisindh near Kota.

Both the state government around 2012 and the particular company had denied about any conflict of interest.

On the other hand, in BJP camp too things do not look so bright for the saffron party. Even as some workers from Jodhpur region pointed out that even in 2008 – when BJP lost power in the state – the saffron party could ensure return of six of its nominees from the region.

“We will maintain significant lead in Jodhpur region,” says Om Kataria, a BJP office bearer from the district.

However, the BJP poll managers have underlined in the state unit office that “some non performing MLAs” will be replaced.

“The idea is to offer new faces and by doing so, we feel the anti-incumbency wave can be countered very strongly,” said Brajesh Khatki, a BJP worker.

According to sources, BJP is looking for replacing Luni legislator Jogaram Patel.

The good-bad casteism games are back into the political chess board. In Jodhpur city seat, sources suggest Vyas community hold the card. Similarly, in Bilwara, it is the Jats.

The Jodhpur region's political game may be ultimately decided by factors leading to the deep divisions between the Jats and Rajputs.(UNI)