Gehlot to play second innings as Rajasthan chief minister


Jaipur : Ashok Gehlot, the main architect of the Congress’ comeback in Rajasthan, is all set to play his second innings as chief minister after he was named leader of the state Congress legislature party Thursday evening.

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Sources in the Congress told IANS that 82 of the 96 elected MLAs supported Gehlot’s name as their leader in the legislature party meeting Thursday afternoon.

All India Congress Committee observer Digvijay Singh named Gehlot the leader after meeting the newly elected MLAs and seeking advice from party president Sonia Gandhi.

“Gehlot has unanimously been chosen leader of the legislature party,” Digvijay Singh told reporters. The 57-year-old Gehlot was chief minister 1998-2003.

Gehlot will take oath Saturday morning along with cabinet colleagues.

The Congress wrested Rajasthan from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the assembly elections, winning 96 seats in a house of 200.

Gehlot spearheaded the party’s campaign and toured the state extensively holding hundreds of public meetings at various places.

It is a major comeback for Gehlot who was thought to be responsible for the worst electoral defeat of the Congress party in Rajasthan in the assembly elections of 2003.

After his name was declared as the leader of the party, Gehlot told reporters that he would provide a transparent and sensitive government, and work to fulfil the promises made in the party’s election manifesto.

There were lots of fireworks at the Pradesh Congress Committee office here after Gehlot’s name was selected.

He was greeted by slogan shouting supporters, and some lifted him on their shoulders.

His official residence in the Civil Lines area of the city was thronged by hundreds of his supporters, who came with flowers and garlands to greet their leader.

The roads leading to Gehlot’s residence were choc-a-bloc and traffic policemen had a tough time controlling the traffic. Reports of jubilation and bursting of firecrackers came in from Jodhpur, where Gehlot hails.

“It was under his leadership that Rajasthan had seen big development and now again we are going to see it, I am sure,” Sukhbir Singh, a supporter said.

According to Congress sources, two of the MLAs are to be deputy chief ministers. The names of Congress’s Hemaram Chaudhary and an Independent, Prasadilal Meena, a former minister in the Ashok Gehlot cabinet, are doing the rounds.

The BJP, which ruled the state for the past five years, suffered a shocking defeat, managing to secure only 78 seats.