Magician Gehlot makes the cut again
Magician Gehlot makes the cut again

If not a politician, he would have been a magician. The crafty low-profile Ashok Gehlot emerged the winner in the race for Chief Minister, apparently on the strength of his long experience in politics of Rajasthan which has put the Congress in the saddle of power without giving it a clear majority.

And now Gehlot, picked by his party for the top post and known for political management, will be required to bring all the factions within the Congress together after infighting is said to have robbed it of what could have been a better showing.

The ‘old guard’ former Union Minister, party general secretary and two-time Chief Minister pipped the youthful Rajasthan Congress chief, Sachin Pilot, on Wednesday to become Chief Minister for a third time.

Besides running the government and striving to fulfil the high expectations of the people, Gehlot will have to utilise all his political acumen and experience to tackle the infighting within the State Congress, especially the cold war with Pilot.

If the factionalism within became public over ticket distribution during the build-up to the crucial Assembly battle, the tussle between Gehlot and Pilot for the CM post peaked soon after the Congress emerged the winner.

Ultimately, the Congress high command preferred to go with the ‘old guard’ over Pilot, who was brought in as the State Congress chief in 2013 to galvanise the party organisation.

Born in 1951 in Jodhpur, Gehlot cut his teeth in politics as a student leader and headed the Rajasthan unit of the National Students Union of India (NSUI), the Congress student wing.

Elected five times to the Lok Sabha from Jodhpur, he steadily acquired political stature under late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He was a Minister under Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and PV Narasimha Rao.

A law graduate from Jodhpur University, Gehlot partnered Pilot in reviving the Congress fortunes in Rajasthan and bring it back to power. For the man who once said, “I would have been a magician if I had not entered politics,” the stakes are really high especially when the 2019 mega poll battle is just months away. Riding on the ‘Modi wave’, the BJP in 2014 made a clean sweep of all the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the State.

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