The Congress’ victory in the just-concluded Rajasthan Lok Sabha bypoll in Alwar is also being credited to Mr Gehlot.
New Delhi: Ahead of the crucial Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan later this year, the Congress high command is caught in a dilemma over projecting chief ministerial candidates.
While in Rajasthan it’s a toss up between Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot, in Madhya Pradesh Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath camps have locked horns. Factionalism among the top leaders in both the states seems to be simmering.
While in Madhya Pradesh, three top Congress leaders — Mr Scindia, Mr Nath and Digvijay Singh — are in the race for being named the chief ministerial nominee, in Rajasthan the Gehlot camp is tacitly mounting pressure on Congress president Rahul Gandhi to make their leader the face of the party.
The Gehlot camp is projecting the Congress’ “stellar performance” in Gujarat elections last year to drive home its argument. His supporters are highlighting the achievements of Mr Gehlot who was in-charge of party affairs in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Congress’ victory in the just-concluded Rajasthan Lok Sabha bypoll in Alwar is also being credited to Mr Gehlot. “The Congress could win Alwar only because of Mr Gehlot,” said one of his supporter.
It may be recalled that in the Rajasthan bypolls, the Congress won both Ajmer and Alwar Lok Sabha seats and trounced the BJP in the Mandalgarh Assembly constituency.
Mr Gehlot had held a road show in Alwar and campaigned actively in the constituency. In Ajmer, it was Mr Pilot, the state Congress chief, who led the charge against the BJP.
A section of Congressmen pitching for Mr Pilot and Mr Scindia as the party’s chief ministerial faces in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh respectively, feel that under the new Congress president the “time has come for generation next to take charge”.
With Congress scoring 3-0 in Rajasthan, a section in the party feels that Mr Pilot has zipped ahead of Mr Gehlot in the race for the post of chief ministerial candidate.
The battle among the top three in Madhya Pradesh is much more severe. Reports reveal that both Mr Nath (71) and Mr Scindia (47) have submitted their “winning formula” to Mr Gandhi.
Mr Singh (70), though perceived to be lagging far behind the two, has not yet thrown in the towel. He is being credited for the massive win for the party in the Raghogarh civic polls in which the Congress bagged a staggering 20 of the 24 seats, decimating the BJP.
Raghogarh is Mr Singh’s hometown.. He has also embarked on a 3,300-km-long Narmada Parikrama, expected to end by mid-March.
The Kamal Nath camp, meanwhile, is going full throttle to persuade the high command as, at the age of 71, this “will be his last shot at the top post.” Mr Nath, apparently, has the backing of Mr Singh.
The Congress president is expected to take a call and hold parleys to end factionalism in the states, particularly in Madhya Pradesh.