Virtually ending weeks of political slugfest around Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) elections, the Ashok Gehlot camp edged out its bête noire Rameshwar Dudi, the former Leader of Opposition in Rajasthan Assembly, with Vaibhav Gehlot all set to become the RCA chief.
Overnight Tuesday, RCA Electoral Officer Rajani Ranjan Rashmi issued a list of office-bearers of district cricket associations (DCA) which are eligible for voting in the RCA elections to be held on October 4, if necessary.
Of the 33 district cricket associations affiliated with RCA, Rashmi disqualified Nagaur, Alwar and Sri Ganganagar over their association with Lalit Modi, who is currently banned by Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) from all its affairs. Modi was the reason RCA was banned for five years, with its suspension being lifted only last month on the condition that anyone associated with Lalit Modi cannot be a part of RCA.
Lalit Modi was the president of Nagaur District Cricket Association (DCA) and Dudi was elected as the Nagaur DCA president in August. With Nagaur DCA’s disqualification, Dudi has become ineligible to contest the RCA elections.
In Alwar, Modi’s son Ruchir Modi is the DCA president while Modi senior’s lawyer Mehmood Abdi is the president of Sri Ganganagar DCA. Hence, the disqualifications have come as a blow to Modi camp, which was backing Dudi, and it is curtains for the former Indian Premier League (IPL) commissioner.
In 2017, CP Joshi had defeated Ruchir Modi for the post of RCA chief. Joshi — who is also the Assembly Speaker — had now thrown his weight behind Ashok Gehlot’s son Vaibhav Gehlot. Last month, Joshi, who is also the Rajsamand DCA president, ensured Vaibhav was elected unopposed as its Treasurer, thus making him eligible to contest RCA elections.
This came in the backdrop of Vaibhav losing Lok Sabha elections to Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat from Jodhpur earlier this year. The CM, 68, hopes to gradually transfer his political capital to his son and the position of RCA chief came as the perfect opportunity. Vaibhav is being assisted by some of Gehlot loyalists, such as MLA Sanyam Lodha, who is the secretary of Sirohi DCA, but Congress leader Rameshwar Dudi posed a challenge.
The growing factionalism within Congress had made things difficult for Gehlot. Dudi, who was nursing CM ambitions as recently as last year, is still smarting from his unexpected loss at the Vidhan Sabha polls and had hoped to reassert his position within the party, and was being supported by Pinkesh Jain, R S Nandu, among others. Although they had reportedly quarrelled last year ahead of Vidhan Sabha elections, Dudi was said to have had the backing of Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot for RCA, with Pilot and Gehlot often indulging in verbal skirmishes.
The bitterness of the developments around RCA can be gauged from the fact that R R Rashmi is the third RCA Electoral Officer in the last ten days. Former Chief Election Commissioner of India, TS Krishnamurthy, had stepped down as RCA EC after allegations of bias by the Joshi camp and his replacement Vinod Zutshi had claimed ineligibility to conduct the polls.
After the publication of the voter list, Vaibhav Gehlot filed his nomination Tuesday while the Dudi camp has maintained a studied silence.
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