New Delhi: In 1977, a young Ashok Gehlot asked his party for a ticket to contest the Vidhan Sabha Election. The party did not oblige the 22-year-old National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) activist and the Congress was routed in the election, winning just 41 seats in the 200-member house. Since then, Gehlot said, he has never asked his party for a ticket or post.
He has simply carried out whatever responsibility he was tasked with. In 1980, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi trusted Gehlot with a Lok Sabha ticket from Jodhpur and at the age of 25, Gehlot entered Parliament.
During an interaction with reporters in Jaipur, Gehlot, the two-time Chief Minister of Rajasthan, was asked if he was hoping to be declared the party’s CM candidate in lieu of the party’s win in the Ajmer, Alwar and Mandalgarh bypolls.
Gehlot replied saying, “I have never asked the party for any post. Only once, in 1977, I asked the party for a ticket to contest the Vidhan Sabha elections. But since then, I have never looked back. I have been an MLA, MP, PCC chief, Union Minister and even Chief Minister many times but I never lobbied for any of these posts. Even now, I will neither ask the party for the CM candidate’s post nor will I lobby for it. The party’s ideology is my ideal. Whatever responsibility the party gives me, I just try to carry it out.”
On February 1, the Indian National Congress clinched what was being called the “Semi-final” before the state of Rajasthan heads to assembly elections later in the year. Congress candidates Raghu Sharma and Karan Singh Yadav won the Lok Sabha byelections from Ajmer and Alwar respectively. And with this crucial bypoll win, Rajasthan Congress Committee (RPCC) Chief Sachin Pilot has further cemented his position within the Congress.
While some leaders want to portray Pilot as the chief architect of the Congress campaign, particularly Ajmer which Pilot represented in the Lok Sabha from 2009 to 2014, other sections of the party are not so keen on placing the crown on Pilot’s young head. Sources indicate that another camp is eager to have Ashok Gehlot declared the CM candidate months ahead of the polls. A loss in the polls would have given the Gehlot camp ammunition with which to approach Congress President Rahul Gandhi and it is something, sources say, Sachin Pilot was mindful of.