NEW DELHI: After days of intense deliberations,
the Congress on Friday
+ selected Ashok Gehlot to be the chief minister of Rajasthan, while Sachin Pilot was chosen to be the deputy chief minister.
After Congress' observer to the state K C Venugopal made the announcement at a media briefing here, Gehlot thanked Gandhi for giving him an opportunity to serve the people of the state for the third time and promised that he and Pilot will give "good governance".
Pilot exuded confidence that Congress' good electoral performance will continue, saying the party will get a big mandate in 2019 polls and form the government at the Centre.
"Me and Gehlot ji have worked our magic on people of Rajasthan. We will meet the governor today and will decide on the details of the oath-taking ceremony," said Pilot.
Rajasthan Chief Minister designate Ashok Gehlot and Deputy Chief Minister designate Sachin Pilot at AICC headquarte… https://t.co/pQiMWLHngr— ANI (@ANI) 1544784787000
Congress president Rahul Gandhi held
a series of discussions with the two candidates
+ — Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot — before finalising the name to lead the government in Rajasthan.
On December 11, Congress had uprooted the BJP in the 200-seat assembly. Due to the death of the BSP candidate from Ramgarh seat in Alwar, only 199 seats went to poll, making the majority mark required to form the government 100. While Congress won on 99 seats, its ally Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) secured one seat and independents won 13.
Following the declaration of the results, the Congress president had held three meetings with the two leaders separately before arriving at the decision.
In today's meeting, several senior Congress leaders, including KC Venugopal, Avinash Pande and Jitendra Singh, were present.
Hours before the announcement, Rahul tweeted a photograph of him standing with the two leaders. "The united colours of Rajasthan," read the tweet.
The united colours of Rajasthan! https://t.co/D1mjKaaBsa— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) 1544778494000
67-year-old Gehlot is sometimes called “Rajasthan's Gandhi” for his simple lifestyle and mass connect. He has been chief minister twice earlier while 41-year-old Pilot is called the "young gun" of Rajasthan.
Currently All India Congress Committee general secretary, Gehlot has been deployed by the party in crucial roles at the national level. He was appointed AICC general secretary in charge of Gujarat just months ahead of last year's assembly polls. The Congress didn't win but managed to give the BJP a big scare in PM Narendra Modi's home state.
In the recent Karnataka assembly polls, Gehlot was there in Bengaluru along with Ghulam Nabi Azad to help stitch together a post-poll coalition with Janata Dal (Secular) to form the government.
On the other hand, Pilot has more than earned his electoral stripes, who travelled for over five lakh kilometres through the length and breadth of the Rajasthan to strengthen the party at the grassroots level and ensure its comeback.
Pilot, who won his seat from Tonk with a margin of more than 54,000, has shown a level of maturity in successfully walking many a tightrope. Born on September 7, 1977, Pilot did a Bachelors honours degree in English Literature from St. Stephen's College, going on to work with the Delhi Bureau of the BBC and then the General Motors Corporation. He completed an MBA from the Wharton Business School (University of Pennsylvania).
In 2017, Rahul Gandhi while taking over the reigns as party president, had assured the workers that he will make Congress, a party of the "new and the old", countering the criticism that senior leaders in the party were overshadowing the young talent.
The choice of the CM and the deputy CM in Rajasthan seems like a balancing act on part of Congress.