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Gehlot and Raje 'helping each other' politically in Rajasthan

If political sources in Rajasthan are to be believed, former chief minister Vasundhara Raje and chief minister Ashok Gehlot are working in ways that appear to help each other's political prospects.

Raje's son Dushyant Singh, a sitting MP, is contesting from his home turf of Jhalawar-Baran seat for the fourth time while Gehlot's son, Vaibhav Gehlot, is the Congress party's Lok Sabha candidate for the Jodhpur seat.

The sources said that the Congress party has fielded a relatively "weak candidate" in Pramod Sharma in Jhalawar. This selection was later also reportedly questioned by Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

However, it being too late, there was no choice left but to go with the candidate, said a Congress worker.

Sharma has links to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's (RSS) student outfit Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) since 1992. In 1996, he was elected as Jhalawar Government College's union president. He was appointed state vice-president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha from 2006 to 2008.

He was an active BJP worker till 2014 but quite following differences with Raje and joined former BJP leader Ghanshyam Tiwari's Deendayal Vahini. He joined the Congress in November last year before the Rajasthan assembly polls.

The BJP has fielded sitting MP Gajendra Singh Shekhawat from Jodhpur. Shekhawat had won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections by around four lakh votes after defeating the Congress party's Chandresh Kumari. Raje's differences with Shekhawat are well known.

Soon after BJP's debacle in the 2018 by-polls, the party's central leadership removed BJP state president Ashok Parnami and had plans to appoint Gajendra Singh Shekhawat as state BJP president.

However, Raje was unwilling and differences between state BJP leadership and central leadership came into the open as the State BJP president's position was left vacant for 76 days.

Later, the former chief minister convinced the central leadership on appointing Madanlal Saini as state BJP president. The differences between Raje and Shekhawat have only grown since then.

Prakash Javadekar was made Lok Sabha in charge for Rajasthan and he contacted grass roots workers to ensure right candidate selection. Had it been Raje, Shekhawat might not have been given the ticket on account of poor performance of Jodhpur in the Assembly elections.

However, the central leadership trusts Shekhawat and he was given the ticket. A few BJP supporters had planned to dent Shekhwat's votes but RSS and BJP workers were well prepared to combat the attack.

Meanwhile, Raje surprised her detractors when she participated in Amit Shah's roadshow in Jodhpur before the Lok Sabha elections.

Sources said that she wants to maintain amicable relations with party leadership to ensure her son gets a ministerial berth if the NDA returns to power at the centre.

"However, like two times earlier, this time too, it is difficult for Dushyant to get a plush seat in the ministry," said a BJP source.

Meanwhile, former SP Pankaj Choudhary, who had been dismissed from service for marrying twice without divorcing his first wife, said, "I have worked with Ashok Gehlot as well as Vasundhara Raje for many years and have closely observed how they are working in connivance during their alternate tenures. They get the officers of their choice appointed to top positions to ensure there is no damage to either of the two even when they are in opposition.

--IANS

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