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After resigning as minister, Raghu Sharma has new task — Gujarat poll preparations

Sharma 63 had recently resigned as the Rajasthan Cabinet minister of health and family welfare as Gehlot on Saturday announced a cabinet expansion-cum-rejig including 15 new ministers in the state cabinet.

Written by Vaibhav Jha | Ahmedabad |
November 24, 2021 3:19:30 am
Congress workers protest as part of the Jan Jagaran Abhiyan against inflation in Vadodara Tuesday. (Photo: Bhupendra Rana)

After being relieved of the health ministry charge, Rajasthan MLA and Congress incharge for Gujarat Raghu Sharma is expected to camp in Gujarat in the next coming weeks to oversee the ongoing enrollment campaign of his party ahead of the 2022 Assembly polls.

Sharma 63, who is believed to be a close confidante of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, had recently resigned as the Rajasthan Cabinet minister of health and family welfare as Gehlot on Saturday announced a cabinet expansion-cum-rejig including 15 new ministers in the state cabinet. Rajasthan MLA Parsadi Lal Meena has been given the Health portfolio.

As the Gujarat Congress battles factionalism amid a tussle for the vacant posts of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president and leader of opposition, Sharma’s task for the 2022 Vidhansabha polls has been cut out — unite the fronts and make the party play offensive on issues of Covid-19 deaths, inflation and unemployment in Gujarat.

The Gujarat Congress is also conducting an ongoing enrollment campaign which is expected to continue till March next year.

According to sources in the Gujarat Congress, Sharma’s rapport with Gehlot and his past experience in election campaigning in Gujarat had made him the ideal candidate for the post of All India Congress Committee (AICC) incharge for Gujarat, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

Sharma was appointed after the post went vacant due to the demise of former AICC incharge Rajeev Satav earlier in May this year due to illness post his Covid recovery.

“When Ashok Gehlot was the AICC incharge of Gujarat during the 2017 Vidhansabha elections, Sharma was given the charge of North Gujarat and he brought impressive results. He has grasp of the ground-level politics in Gujarat and understands the issues concerning the voters. With him being relieved of the health ministry charge in Rajasthan, we can now expect him to camp in Gujarat till the polls. Already Sharma was in Gujarat for a week during our party’s Jan Abhiyan against rising fuel prices and inflation. Now, another ten day visit of Sharma is due in the coming weeks,” said a senior office bearer of Gujarat Congress.

A chintan shivir (think camp) of Gujarat Congress under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi is also on the cards, expected to be held before the year ends, said sources in the party.

Another reason for Sharma getting the post is Rajasthan being a border state with Gujarat where Congress is in power. In the past three years, Gujarat Congress on many occasions had made their MLAs camp in resorts in Rajasthan amid the crisis.

“We know that the election campaigning during the 2022 polls will be coordinated with our counterparts in Rajasthan so Sharma’s presence will really boost our prospects due to his closeness with both Rahul Gandhi and Ashok Gehlot. We will be bringing forth the issues such as covid mismanagement, record unemployment percentage and inflation in Gujarat under his leadership,” said another Gujarat Congress leader.

Meanwhile, the Gujarat Congress attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party over the recent comments made by the Supreme Court stating that the “Gujarat CM doesn’t know anything” showing its contempt over the state government’s decision to set up a scrutiny committee for the dispersal of ex gratia compensation for Covid-19 deaths in the state.

“The SC has lashed out at the BJP government but when will they wake up? When they are busy doing sneh milan programs then when will they listen to the grievances of the people of Gujarat ? Due to the mismanagement and negligience of the Gujarat government, over three lakh people lost their lives due to the pandemic in Gujarat, yet the official figures show the deaths at 10,090. Despite several warnings by the Gujarat High Court, the state government did not make any improvements. This is the government which couldn’t even ensure respectful last rites of the deceased people during Covid,” said Manish Doshi, spokesperson, GPCC in a press conference in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.

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