By SM.14 Dec, 2018
NEW DELHI: Ashok Gehlot is the new Chief Minister of Rajasthan and Sachin Pilot has agreed to be his deputy, sources said today, shortly after Rahul Gandhi dropped a big hint that the tussle between the two leaders was over. The Congress president tweeted a photo with Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot, all three grinning, with the caption: "The United Colours of Rajasthan". It was a replica of his photo to signal the Madhya Pradesh detente last evening. The Congress has been in firefighting mode since it scooped big BJP states Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in state election results on Tuesday.
It took several rounds of meetings over the past 36 hours to bring Sachin Pilot, 41, on board. Rahul Gandhi"s sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra joined one of the meetings.
In a break from tradition, Ashok Gehlot"s name is likely to be announced at the Congress office in Delhi instead of at a meeting of MLAs in Rajasthan capital Jaipur.
Two-time chief minister Ashok Gehlot, say sources, was a clear choice for the Congress ahead of the 2019 national elections. Upsetting someone like the 67-year-old master strategist by naming someone else for the top job was too big a risk for the party.
Sachin Pilot went down fighting. He argued that he moved to Rajasthan and took charge when the Congress had been reduced to just 20 lawmakers in the 2013 state elections. His other argument was that another Congress state chief, Kamal Nath, had been made chief minister.
Yesterday, in a similar teaser tweeted by Rahul Gandhi, Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia flanked the Congress president, the caption quoting Leo Tolstoy: "The two most powerful warriors are patience and time." Hours later, Kamal Nath was named Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister.
This morning, a group of protesters from the Gujjar community, which supports Sachin Pilot, blocked the highway at Alwar. There have been sporadic protests since Tuesday, after the Congress won Rajasthan.
Sachin Pilot appealed for "calm and decorum" last evening when a highway protest took place in Karauli. "I have full faith in the leadership, we will welcome whatever Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi decide," he tweeted.
Gehlot was called back from the Delhi airport last night when he was about to fly back to Rajasthan capital Jaipur, apparently after being told he would be named chief minister.
As the experience versus youth battle for the top post in three states seemed to head nowhere all day Thursday, the Congress president even consulted his mother Sonia Gandhi and sister Priyanka.
For Chhattisgarh, the frontrunners are TS Singh Deo and Bhupesh Baghel. Sources say Chhattisgarh Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel will probably get the job, although insiders say there is also considerable support for Singh Deo.