Will Ashok Gehlot’s magic work for Congress amid non-Gandhi party chairman buzz

Congress is back to May 25, 2019, the situation where a haughty and hurt Rahul Gandhi tendered his resignation as the 87th President of the AICC, responsible for the Lok Sabha debacle in 2019. Rahul’s resignation came with the condition that his successor is not part of the Nehru-Gandhi family members and that the Gandhi trio – Sonia, Priyanka and him – do not participate in the choice of the replacement.

Congress hesitated. Nearly three months have passed in inertia, deadlock and behind-the-scenes attempts to make Rahul “see reason”. Rahul remained adamant, refusing to take up the torch of leadership. Three months passed and the great old party remained headless. On August 10, 2019, Sonia was named the party’s acting president.

Someone had subsequently filed a petition with the Supreme Court to take the internal congressional power struggle to the courts. Those who are familiar with the legal provisions believe that it is enough to ask for judicial intervention under the guise of an internal party democracy. For example, the AICC session has yet to ratify the appointment of Sonia as “interim” party leader. The Congress Party constitution gives sweeping powers to the AICC leader but says nothing about the exact powers of an interim leader.

The Congress Working Committee is due to meet on August 28, 2022 to deliberate on the organizational ballots. Significantly, the Gandhi trio, Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka, would not be in Delhi that day. Although a zoom/online meeting has the potential to bring everyone together regardless of time zone, city or country, it is worth noting whether the Gandhi trio would join the meeting or participate in the discussion. The possibility that the CWC will ask Sonia or Rahul to lead the party during the current “test period” cannot be ruled out.

However, if the Gandhis stick to Rahul’s May 25, 2019 position of letting the CWC and non-Gandhi members sort out the leadership issue, the whole voting process of the party would become interesting.

Ashok Gehlot, a favorite

Over the past 24 hours, Ashok Gehlot’s name as head of the AICC has gained traction. Several factors favor Gehlot. The three-time chief minister is a face of the OBC, an acceptable leader among the faction-dominated AICC. Gehlot was a man of organization. He was the AICC General Secretary in charge of the organization when Rahul was chairman of the party and during the Gujarat Assembly elections in 2017.

If ten prominent state Congress leaders in the Gujarat Assembly polls, including Shakti Sinh Gohil, Sidharth Patel, Arjun Modwaia and others, had not lost, Congress would have finished much closer to victory. midway margin.

Gehlot had party tickets against some JD(U) nominees, Muslims and Alphesh Thakore supporters [ Thakore joined the BJP in 2019] as most of them lost their seats. Gehlot had later admitted that there was a lesson to be learned that unless the party organization was able to convert half chances into victories, Congress success would remain elusive.

Gehlot does not want to swap party post for CM seat

Informed sources say Gehlot is unwilling to trade his seat as chief minister for a party post unless Sonia Gandhi forces his hand. The Prime Minister of Rajasthan is also opposed to the idea of ​​moving to Delhi, fearing that the post of Prime Minister will go to his pet peeve, Sachin Pilot. But many in Rajasthan and outside believe a changing of the guard in Jaipur at this stage could help Congress regain lost ground and shore up its prospects for the November 2023 State Assembly elections.

“I would have been a magician if I had never entered politics”

As I recalled in a profile of Ashok Gehlot earlier, he had a shot in Congress in the early 1970s when Indira Gandhi’s son Sanjay was running the show.

Sanjay was promoting another Gehlot, a wrestler Janardhan Gehlot, who humiliated a powerful Bhairon Singh Shekhawat in 1972 from Gandhi Nagar (Jaipur). Luckily, Sanjay lost his affection for the giant killer Janardhan Gehlot, a Kshatriya, and his buddies quickly replaced him with another Gehlot who was from the Mali (gardener) community. Ashok was appointed head of the National Student Union of India (NSUI) of Rajasthan in a very special way when a biker carried his letter of appointment from Delhi to Jaipur.

Coming from a family of magicians, Gehlot was initially called “geeli billiin Sanjay’s congressional circles. He was affable, deeply religious and practiced several Gandhian ways of life. A teetotaler, Gehlot, to this day believes in eating only Satvik meals and avoids eating anything after sunset until new dawn.

Few facts are known about one of the most powerful men in the current Congress except that Ashok Gehlot’s father Babu Laxman Singh Daksh was a famous magician and used to travel to various countries for give performances.

In his childhood, Ashok also accompanied his father as an assistant and performed tricks, leaving onlookers rather spellbound. A few years ago, Ashok told an interviewer: “I would have been a magician if I had never entered politics. I’ve always loved social work and learning magic tricks. In the future, I may not have the chance to become a magician, but magic is always in my soul.

Although he does not admit it, Ashok Gehlot allegedly performed magic tricks in front of a young Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi in the presence of Indira Gandhi.

When Gehlot became the eyes and ears of Rajiv in Rajasthan

Politician Ashok Gehlot, however, kept a low profile in Rajasthan and Delhi until Rajiv Gandhi entered the political scene after Sanjay’s death. Rajiv recommended him as a junior minister to the Indira Council of Ministers. Opposed to the powerful Haridev Joshi and Shiv Charan Mathur, Ashok became the eyes and ears of Rajiv in Rajasthan. The political truth is that Ashok Gehlot played a central role in the dismissal of Joshi as Chief Minister of Rajasthan when Rajiv decided to hold a cabinet meeting in Sariska National Park, 170 kilometers from the national capital .

According to Rajiv’s instructions, ministers of state were not supposed to use official cars to meet with Rajiv. Rajiv was driving an SUV himself which was reportedly flagged by a local traffic cop to turn right, instead of going straight. The seemingly innocent mistake (some claim to be the work of magician Ashok) proved costly for Joshi as the hijacking led to a location where hundreds of official cars belonging to ministers of state, civil servants, etc. ) were parked. Rajasthan was then experiencing a severe drought and Rajiv, struggling on many fronts, tried to send a signal of austerity.

Rajiv’s public rebuke was not well received by Joshi, who sulked and boycotted lunch. The absence of the host chief minister was noticed by Joshi’s friend, PV Narasimha Rao, HRD minister in Rajiv’s cabinet. Rao’s attempts to act as a peacemaker proved futile as, within a month, Joshi was replaced by Mathur.

At that time, Ashok Gehlot was in Delhi as head of the Ministry of Tourism. His earlier stint as deputy civil aviation minister had given him something of a profile as Ashok followed Rajiv’s vision to the bitter end. Many laurels followed. Ashok has been credited with setting up Dilli Haat opposite INA Market which continues to serve as an ethnic bazaar bringing artisans and their handicrafts from across the country into direct contact with shoppers. His tenure as Union Minister in charge of Textiles under PV Narasimha Rao was memorable as many innovative ideas were brought to fruition.

Despite walking through the halls of power in Delhi and Jaipur, Gehlot’s idea of ​​relaxation had been to sit in front of a PCO in Jodhpur and do gupshup with everyone. The seasoned politician can laugh at himself. Once he had whispered something to a young man that went something like, “tamatar khao“but, indeed, it was”kama kar khao.” When this joke was told to Ashok Gehlot, he had a hearty laugh.

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