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Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot to Fight Rajasthan Elections as Congress Tries to Keep Both Camps Happy

Gehlot tried to play down the rift within and said the party high command decides on who will lead the Congress. “We have said many times that whatever Rahul Gandhi decides on CM and we will abide by that. It’s a tradition for Congress in Rajasthan to not declare CM before elections,” he said.

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Updated:November 14, 2018, 2:34 PM IST
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Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot to Fight Rajasthan Elections as Congress Tries to Keep Both Camps Happy
File photo of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi with Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot.
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New Delhi: In an attempt to placate competing factions in its Rajasthan unit, the Congress has decided to field both chief ministerial aspirants Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot in the Assembly elections next month.

The Congress high command had to intervene after a section in the party pressed that the Madhya Pradesh formula of not fielding top leadership be emulated in Rajasthan.

Gehlot tried to play down the rift within and said the party high command decides on who will lead the Congress. “We have said many times that whatever Rahul Gandhi decides on CM and we will abide by that. It’s a tradition for Congress in Rajasthan to not declare CM before elections,” he said.

Former CM Gehlot has been an MLA representing Sardarpura in Jodhpur district since 1998. His claim on the seat was based on the fact that he has not sought to venture into national politics or seek a Lok Sabha nomination even when the Congress was in opposition in the state.

Quite unlike Congress leaders in MP who are members of Parliament, Gehlot has for the last two decades chosen to remain in state politics and contest Assembly polls since 1998. Though he has contested and won 5 Lok Sabha elections and worked as a minister under three PMs, including Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Narsimha Rao.

A two-time CM, Gehlot faces a stiff challenge from within as state Congress president Sachin Pilot emerges as a contender for the top job.

Pilot was minister in the Manmohan Singh government but lost the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Ajmer. He, however, did not contest the by-elections for the seat earlier this year which was won by the Congress with a huge margin.

By nominating both Pilot and Gehlot, the Congress has attempted to keep both factions happy.

In 2008, Gehlot became the chief minister when the other contender CP Joshi lost the Assembly polls by just one vote. Short of majority with 96 MLAs in the House, Gehlot was chosen as leader of the legislature party and completed his second full five-year term.
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