With the conclusion of the Lok Sabha election 2019, infighting in the upper echelons of the Congress party in Rajasthan has intensified. The tussle between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot has come out in the open in the desert state.
On Wednesday, after Ashok Gehlot presented his first Budget during the state government's present tenure, he made it obvious that he was unwilling to let go of the chief minister post.
Ashok Gehlot, after presenting the state Budget in Rajasthan Assembly, had come for the customary press conference. Without even being asked about it, Ashok Gehlot claimed that the people of Rajasthan wanted him and no one else to become the chief minister.
Gehlot also said that Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, who has resigned from his post, had showed faith in him for the chief minister post, further respecting the people's sentiments.
Ashok Gehlot's statement is significant at a time when rumours of his name being under consideration for the post of Congress national president after Rahul Gandhi's resignation.
"The manner in which people chose us, I realise that there was a feeling in the last election that Ashok Gehlot should become the chief minister. The one who should become the CM and the one who should not was mentioned by name. And Rahul Gandhi, respecting the people of Rajasthan, being the Congress president, gave me this opportunity. It is my responsibility," Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said.
The political tussle between Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot has been no secret in the desert state. After the Assembly results were out, both the camps of Pilot and Gehlot had tried hard to ensure that their leader became the next chief minister.
"Even when I was the chief minister (earlier), with this kind of love, affection, and trust, I would not have heard that which heard this time. That is why, it was appropriate for me to take the oath as the chief minister. I took it," Gehlot added.
After the Assembly results were out in December last year, accusations of internal sabotage flew thick and fast as several claimed that Ashok Gehlot's confidantes and long time loyalists were asked to fight as Independents so that he can use them as bargaining chips if the Congress needed outside support to form the government.
Some of these Independents included the likes of Mahadev Singh Khandela, MLA from Khandela, Sriganganagar MLA Raj Kumar Gaur and Babulal Nagar, MLA from Dudu.
Some Independent MLAs, who were considered pro-Gehlot, later joined the Congress after Gehlot became the chief minister.