Ashok Gehlot continues to sit on the chair of Rajasthan’s Chief Minister simply because he is in the good books of interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who during the tumultuous phase last year in Rajasthan politics had saved Ashok Gehlot’s government, in face of a rebellion by Sachin Pilot and his camp. Without the intervention of Sonia Gandhi, Ashok Gehlot was bound to lose his chief ministership, as even Rahul Gandhi favoured Sachin Pilot’s bid for the post. Now, Ashok Gehlot is repaying his larger-than-life debt to Sonia Gandhi by defending her claim to the Congress presidency against all odds.
At the Congress Working Committee meeting on Friday, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot mounted an attack on party dissenters and those who were harping on the need for immediate elections for the Congress President’s post, complemented with other structural reforms within the party. Sources told PTI that Gehlot attacked some of the ‘letter-writers’ and called their actions ‘disrespectful’ while saying that after being in the CWC for decades without fighting an election, they have suddenly woken up to the need of holding elections to the party’s highest decision-making body.
“Party ne bahut kuch diya hai. Hum jo bhi hain Congress ki wajah se hain (The party has given us a lot. Whatever we are today is because of the Congress),” Gehlot said during the meeting. This remark was then met with a stern retort from Anand Sharma, who is himself at the forefront of demanding sweeping changes within the Congress. “We have also contributed a lot for the party. Have given 42 years to the party,” Sharma hit back saying. Meanwhile, elections for the post of the Congress President will now be conducted before June this year.
Ashok Gehlot seems to be on the path of becoming that leader of the Congress who speaks out openly what the other senior Congress leaders religiously loyal to the Gandhis cannot say. While Congress has many spokespersons, Ashok Gehlot is fast emerging as the personal spokesman of the Gandhi-Vadra family.
Earlier, Gehlot had even mounted an attack on Kapil Sibal for asking the party to reform itself after the Bihar poll rout it suffered. “There was no need for Mr Kapil Sibal to mention our internal issue in the media, this has hurt the sentiments of party workers across the country,” Gehlot had said in a tweet. He added, “Congress has seen various crises including 1969, 1977, 1989 and later in the 1996 – but every-time we came out stronger due to our ideology, programs, policies and firm belief in party leadership.”
Ashok Gehlot’s absolute allegiance to Sonia Gandhi is a mere payback for the Congress’ godmother saving the man’s political fortunes is his time of crisis. Now that Sonia Gandhi finds herself in a tough spot, the Rajasthan Chief Minister is working overtime to a firefight on her behalf.