Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy, Sachin Pilot, have been named in the 29-member Pradesh Election Committee that the Congress announced on Thursday for the upcoming Assembly election.
The announcement of the election panel by the All India Congress Committee (AICC) comes barely two weeks after Mr. Pilot and Mr. Gehlot agreed to a truce.
Sources had earlier told The Hindu that the high command was willing to offer chairmanship of the Campaign Committee to Mr. Pilot to end the leadership tussle. There was also a speculation that he could be given position in the Central Working Committee (CWC) that is likely to be announced shortly.
Gehlot loyalists dominate panel
The Rajasthan Election Committee will be headed by Pradesh Congress Committee president Govind Singh Dotasra, while an attempt was made to give representation to all castes, communities and regions in the panel. Though several Ministers were appointed the members, the loyalists of Mr. Gehlot seemed to be dominating the committee.
Minister of State for Agricultural Marketing Murari Lal Meena was the only prominent supporter of Mr. Pilot who was accommodated in the committee. The membership of the panel suggested that it is the Gehlot camp which will have an upper hand in the ticket distribution for the Assembly election due in December this year, according to the political analysts in Jaipur.
An AICC statement said Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge had approved the proposal for the constitution of the committee. As neither Mr. Gehlot nor Mr. Pilot was appointed the committee’s chairman, the top leadership of the party seemed to be inclined towards evolving a consensus for drawing up strategies for the polls and selecting candidates for important seats.
The name of former Union Minister Jitendra Singh, considered close to the Congress high command, appeared in the list of members just after Mr. Gehlot. The Ministers named as members included Pratap Singh Khachariyawas, Lalchand Kataria, Mahendrajeet Singh Malviya, Udai Lal Anjana, Shale Mohammed, Mamta Bhupesh, Govind Ram Meghwal, Pramod Jain Bhaya, Shakuntala Rawat, Ashok Chandna and Bhajan Lal Jatav.
Other prominent members of the panel were CWC member Raghuveer Meena, former Pradesh Congress chief Rameshwar Dudi, Congress national spokesperson Mohan Prakash, AICC national secretary Dheeraj Gurjar, Rajya Sabha Member Neeraj Dangi and Congress’ Gujarat in-charge Raghu Sharma, Punjab in-charge Harish Choudhary and Uttar Pradesh in-charge Zubair Khan.
Poll strategy meeting
The setting up of the committee came shortly after an election strategy meeting at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi earlier this month, in which the differences between the rival factions led by Mr. Gehlot and Mr. Pilot were resolved. Both of them had agreed to work together for defeating the trend of the change of government every five years and bringing the Congress back to power.
The party had indicated that it may not declare a Chief Ministerial face for the Assembly poll. Mr. Gehlot, who is recovering from injuries to his toes, had attended the meeting through video conferencing.
Water Resources Minister Malviya and Disaster Management and Relief Minister Meghwal told reporters outside the Assembly after the committee’s appointment that the atmosphere in the State was in favour of “repeating the Congress” in power in view of the government’s flagship welfare schemes, which had benefited large sections of population.
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