A DAY AFTER Rahul Gandhi referred to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, while speaking at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) about senior leaders who put the interests of their sons above that of the party during the Lok Sabha elections, two ministers of the Rajasthan Cabinet spoke out in support of the Congress president and demanded “introspection” and “accountability” in their state.
Cooperative Minister Udaylal Anjana told The Indian Express that there is “talk in the town that the Chief Minister (Gehlot) would have been able to work more in other constituencies had he been free.” Food and Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister Ramesh Chand Meena warned that the defeat “should not be taken lightly”.
In a repeat of 2014, the Congress failed to notch a single win in Rajasthan this time. The BJP won 24 seats and it’s poll ally Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) claimed one.
On Saturday, it is learnt, Rahul Gandhi referred to Gehlot, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath and senior leader P Chidambaram while speaking about those who put the interests of their sons above that of the party. Gandhi is learnt to have told the CWC that Gehlot had spent about a week campaigning for his son in Jodhpur while neglecting the rest of the state.
The Chief Minister’s son Vaibhav Gehlot lost by over 2.7 lakh votes to BJP leader and Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.
“What the Congress president has said in absolutely right. There should be an introspection on what Rahulji has said. There should deliberation and analysis. The party should introspect on the reasons for such a massive defeat. It should not be taken lightly. What he said should not go in vain, so that the party does not suffer such a severe defeat in the future,” Meena said.
Stopping short of demanding a leadership change, he said the party should look into the reasons for such a rout despite being in the Government, and that “accountability should be fixed”. The Congress president, Meena said, has spoken about Gehlot, Kamal Nath and Chidambaram, and “they all should introspect”.
Anjana said that “when Rahulji is upset and has even offered to resign, then the other senior leaders should at least reflect”.
Asked whether he was demanding the resignation of Gehlot, Anjana said, “I am not that big to demand his resignation, but he should introspect…every one should.”
He said ticket distribution in Rajasthan was not up to the mark. “There are many reasons. His (Gehlot) son’s issue could also have been a factor. There were some problems with ticket distribution. Tickets were not properly distributed. Issues were not settled in time,” he said.
Referring to the BJP’s poll tie-up in the state, Anjana said Gehlot should have been “aggressive” in trying to cement a deal for the Congress with RLP chief Hanuman Beniwal, who defeated the party’s candidate Jyoti Mirdha in Nagaur.
“Gehlot, (K C) Venugopal and (AICC general secretary Avinash) Pande were all there, they were taking the decisions. We used to meet them on matters regarding tickets. If the BJP could do it (tie-up with Beniwal), why couldn’t we? It would have made a difference in western Rajasthan,” he said.