Deepening the suspense over Congress’ chief ministerial candidate for Rajasthan, both its supposed contenders, former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and Pradesh Congress Committee president Sachin Pilot announced today (Wednesday, Nov 14) that they will contest the assembly elections scheduled on December 7.
During a press conference at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi, Gehlot said, “Both me and Sachin Pilot will be contesting the Assembly elections this year.”
“After the aadesh (order) of Rahul Gandhi ji and the nivedan (request) of Ashok Gehlot ji, I will also be contesting the Assembly elections this year,” Pilot added.
While chief minister Vasundhara Raje will lead the BJP in the upcoming polls, the Congress is unlikely to name its chief ministerial face in view of the apprehensions that the move could backfire given that both Gehlot and Pilot are claimants to the post.
“The reports of infighting in the Rajasthan Congress are baseless and spread by the BJP. We are unitedly fighting the assembly elections,” Gehlot said.
Opinion in the party was said to be divided on whether the two should contest elections or devote themselves to campaigning for the party across the state.
The Congress is yet to release its first list of candidates for the Rajasthan Assembly elections and is yet to announce from where the two leaders will contest the polls. Gehlot is presently MLA from Jodhpur’s Sardarpura constituency and is likely to be repeated from there.
Pilot, who has never contested an assembly election before but has been the party’s Lok Sabha MP from Ajmer, might contest from the same district. In Ajmer, Kekri and Masuda are being seen as the likely assembly constituencies for Pilot. He may, however, be fielded from one of the constituencies in Bhilwara, Karauli and Dausa districts also.
During the briefing, the sitting BJP MP from Dausa, Harish Meena was inducted into the Congress. Meena, who is also a former director general of police (DGP) of Rajasthan, said that he joined the Congress without any conditions.
Meena too might be the Congress candidate from one of the seats in Dausa district, which is dominated by Meenas and Gujjars. Pilot belongs to the Gujjar community and his father Rajesh Pilot had represented Dausa in the Parliament.
In another development, Rajasthan MLA Habibur Rahaman, who quit the BJP Monday after being denied a ticket, was also expected to join the Congress in Jaipur later.