Congress president Rahul Gandhi declared Ashok Gehlot as Chief Minister of Rajasthan after two days of in-house discussions and debates and outdoor drama. By doing so, Gandhi has struck a perfect balance between experience and youth in Rajasthan assembly.
The Congress won 99 seats in the state assembly earlier this week, bouncing back from the drubbing in the 2013 polls when the party won just 21 seats.
State Congress president Sachin Pilot, who had made a strong bid for the top post, was persuaded to settle for the role of deputy chief minister. This will be the third term as chief minister for the 67-year-old Gehlot after having served in the post in 1998-2003 and 2008-13. Pilot, 47, was a minister of state in the UPA regime.
Rahul Gandhi tweeted a photo of him along with Gehlot and Pilot captioned: “The united colours of Rajasthan!”
— EconomicTimes (@EconomicTimes) December 14, 2018
Gandhi took the decision after taking into account the views of newly elected Congress legislators and after due deliberations with many party leaders, AICC observer KC Venugopal said at a briefing, where he was accompanied by Gehlot and Pilot.
“The Congress government will fulfil the election promises such as farmers’ loan waiver, job generation and will also build many infrastructure projects for the state,” Gehlot said. The new CM is expected to roll out a slew of welfare schemes.
Raj Bhawan officials said that the Congress leaders have sought time for a swearing-in ceremony at 10 am on Monday. Gehlot said, “On Monday there will be a swearing-in ceremony of the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister after which the cabinet will be constituted.”
Raj Bhawan spokesperson Lokesh Chandra Sharma said that a delegation of Congress leaders led by Congress leader Avinash Pande met Governor Kalyan Singh. “The delegation also presented a list of 100 MLAs to the Governor. The Governor then gave a letter to Ashok Gehlot inviting him to take the oath as Chief Minister and form the government,” he said.
Both left for Jaipur after the decision was reached to hold the Congress Legislature Party meeting to confirm the decision. A party delegation thereafter met the state governor with Gehlot staking his claim to form the government.
“I think an experienced and dynamic leadership will come together in Rajasthan…this leadership will give total strength to the party and fulfil the aspirations of the people of Rajasthan,” AICC observer K C Venugopal told reporters.
“Mera aur Ashok Gehlot ji ka jaadu puri tarah chal gaya hai (Gehlot and I worked our magic in the state)…our first priority will be to prepare for the Lok Sabha elections to see to it that the Congress emerges as a strong force,” Pilot said. He also said that the party’s manifesto will be implemented immediately.
As per the strength of the Rajasthan assembly, the Gehlot ministry can have a maximum of 30 ministers. Taking into account the caste equations of the state, the chief minister may give proportional representation to the Jat, Brahmin, Meena, Rajput, Dalit, Gujjar and Bania communities. Tentatively, the oath-taking ceremony is slated for December 17.