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All is not well in Rajasthan Congress

IANS  |  Jaipur 

If party sources are to be believed, trouble seems to be brewing in the Congress in Rajasthan.

Talking to IANS, a state Congress leader said that Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot wanted Congress President Rahul Gandhi and party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi to attend a roadshow in support of his son Vaibhav Gehlot, the Congress candidate from the Jodhpur Lok Sabha constituency.

However, the brother-sister duo couldn't give dates for the same. Eventually, the Chief Minister had to spearhead Vaibhav's campaign almost alone, from organising roadshows to sending personal SMSes and going door-to-door appealing people to vote for his son.

Not a single national Congress leader came to support Gehlot or his son, as the Chief Minister stationed himself in Jodhpur for nine days, playing the role of an anxious father going all out to build a safe future for his son, said a Congress worker.

Gehlot himself accepted this fact.

"All the fathers in this world work hard to ensure the success of their children. What is the issue if I do the same," the Chief Minister had asked after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a rally in Jodhpur that Gehlot knew that all the other seats in Rajasthan were going to the BJP and hence he was working on one seat being contested by his son.

The fraction between Gehlot and Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot too became evident after the latter refrained from campaigning in Jodhpur, expect for one occasion when he went there to inaugurate Vaibhav's office.

Incidentally, Pilot had earlier expressed his displeasure over giving tickets to the family members of party workers. "This would demotivate the party workers. I want hardworking Congress workers to get tickets for the Lok Sabha polls," he had said.

However, Pilot's suggestion was ignored and Vaibhav was fielded from Jodhpur.

Just a day before 13 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state went to the polls on Monday, leader of the Opposition Gulabchand Kataria shocked everybody by claiming that the Chief Minister will be replaced after May 23 when election results will be out.

Addressing media in Udaipur, Kataria said: "The BJP will win 21 seats in the state. And despite having a Congress Chief Minister, if the party loses 21 seats, the Chief Minister will be replaced for sure."

He also said that Gehlot's son would taste defeat, which would speak volumes about the state of the party in Rajasthan.

According to sources, Rahul Gandhi had summoned Congress leaders from Rajasthan to Delhi before the elections and expressed his displeasure over the distribution of tickets to candidates lacking "winnability". Sources also said that the Congress wanted to change six candidates in the state but dropped the idea as it felt it was too late to do so.

According to a state Congress leader, Gandhi was informed about the wrong selection of candidates while he was on a trip to Uttar Pradesh, and the Congress President had immediately called Gehlot to discuss the matter.

Among the candidates under the lens was Jyoti Khandelwal from Jaipur, whose integrity was questioned following a sting operation by a television channel. A former Mayor of Jaipur, Khandelwal had resigned from her post as a party General Secretary after she was denied a ticket in the 2018 Assembly elections. Giving ticket to such a rebel leader was not unacceptable to many in the party.

Another candidate under the scanner was Rijju Jhunjhunuwala from Ajmer. Congress workers were reportedly anguished to see a millionaire "parachute" candidate being introduced by the party from a crucial seat like Ajmer.

The third Congress candidate in question was Pramod Sharma from Jhalawar taking on three-time BJP MP Dushyant Singh, the son of former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.

"Many felt that this seat required a strong candidate, doubting the Congress' decision to opt for Sharma," said a Congress leader on condition of anonymity.

He also said that Pilot had little say in the distribution of tickets and hence was not as active during the Lok Sabha polls as he was during the Assembly elections held last year.

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, April 30 2019. 21:20 IST