CM race has never been easier for Gehlot

Ashok Gehlot
In 1998, when the Congress won 150 seats, Gehlot was picked as the chief minister for the first time.

Jaipur: Ashok Gehlot who emerged on Friday as Congress' choice for the chief minister's post in Rajasthan faced serious opposition in the race to the CM's post in 1998 and 2008 as well, with Jat leaders in the party opposing him.

On both occasions, he overcame the opposition to be named by the Congress as the chief minister.

This time, however, the challenge from Pradesh Congress Committee president Sachin Pilot has been tougher.

After the jockeying for power since the results of the December 7 assembly polls came in on Tuesday, the Congress picked him over Pilot on Friday afternoon to head the state government.

In December 2008, Jat leaders like the then Union minister Sis Ram Ola, former Rajasthan Speaker Parasram Maderna and newly elected MLA Sonaram had openly raised the demand for a Jat chief minister. Gehlot is from the Mali community.

The then Pradesh Congress Committee president C P Joshi, who later became Union minister after winning the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, also had chief ministerial aspirations.

But he lost the 2008 assembly election with a margin of just one vote, ruling himself out of the race.

Amid protests by the Jat community, supporters of Gehlot and Ola clashed outside the guesthouse where AICC observers including Digvijay Singh were staying.

After intense consultations with the Congress MLAs, the observers forwarded their report to the then party president Sonia Gandhi, who cleared Gehlot for the post.

Congress party won 96 seats in 2008 and Gehlot ran the government with the support of six Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs and a few independents.

Parasram Maderna's son Mahipal Maderna was made the water resources minister in the Gehlot cabinet.

In 1998, when the Congress won 150 seats, Gehlot was picked as the chief minister for the first time.

There were demands from the Jat community then as well that Rajasthan should get a chief minister from its ranks, with lobbying on Parasram Maderna.

However, Gehlot ended up getting the job.

This time, the Congress won 99 seats out of the 199 where polling was held on December 7.

After meetings in Jaipur between the MLAs and the AICC office-bearers in Jaipur on Wednesday, the deliberations shifted to Delhi, with Congress president Rahul Gandhi meeting both contenders and other senior leaders.

Sachin Pilot's supporters from his Gurjar community held a series of protests, blocking roads in Rajasthan, on Thursday when it appeared that the announcement naming Gehlot was imminent.

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