Congress stalwart from Rajasthan and former state Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said Sunday he did not hold any position in priority and will abide by the decision the party high command takes on the issue of CM-ship.
Not ruling himself out of the race for the top post in the state should Congress win, Gehlot in an exclusive interview to PTI said he would be open to any role Congress president Rahul Gandhi assigns him in the interest of the party.
“I am ready for whatever role Congress president gives me. I am against any kind of lobbying for any position. I have never lobbied even when I faced dissidence as CM. If they (the high command) send me to Rajasthan in party interest, it will be their decision,” the powerful AICC general secretary said.
He said he is “more than satisfied” with his long political career as a five-time Lok Sabha MP, three-time Union minister and ten-year Rajasthan chief minister.
“No post is a priority for me. I am more than satisfied with my political innings and the question before me now is how to bring the party in power in Rajasthan first and then in the country under the leadership of Congress president Rahul Gandhi. I will be ready for any role I am assigned,” he said when asked if he is in the race for chief ministership should Congress come to power.
Asked whether the fact that all top state leaders contesting elections in Rajasthan will heat up the power race in the party after polls, Gehlot said the “issue of CM will be amicably resolved by the party high command which will take a decision on three grounds — party interest, public and MLAs’ sentiments.”
“There will be no problem. The high command’s decision will be acceptable to all… Whatever they decide will be acceptable to all,” he said, accusing the BJP of raising the CM issue for political reasons.
On whether there will be a new CM face other than him or Pilot, Gehlot said it will be the party high command’s decision.
The two-term ex-CM of Rajasthan also said the decision on who the next CM will be will not be hampered by the presence of the entire top state brass in elections.
Asked why all state leaders were contesting in Rajasthan, unlike in Madhya Pradesh, he said it is a decision which the Congress president has taken, and he welcomed it.
“The politics in Rajasthan is different and the Congress leadership believes that all the leaders who wish to contest should do so,” Gehlot said.
“I want the party’s flag to fly high both in Rajasthan and across the country, as the present atmosphere is dangerous for the country and people want the Congress to return to power both in the state and at the Centre.”
The AICC general secretary said the party has a tradition of not declaring its CM candidate in advance and that tradition will be respected.
He alleged that it was a BJP conspiracy to raise such an issue to create divisions within the Congress and the people understand this.
“The BJP does not have any right to ask who the Congress CM face is, as they themselves did not have a state party chief for 75 days,” Gehlot said.
On giving tickets to parachute candidates, he said former BJP leader Manvendra Singh has been fielded against CM Vasundhara Raje based on a political strategy and is an exception.
The Congress leader, who served thrice as Union minister under Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao, is pitted with PCC chief Sachin Pilot for the post of chief minister and both are contesting the state election.
While Gehlot is a sitting MLA from Sardarpura, Pilot is contesting the state poll for the first time from Tonk. Pilot has been a former MP from Dausa and then from Ajmer.
Gehlot said the Congress will soon declare its manifesto, which will spell out steps to tackle farm distress and to improve the law and order.
There is a lot of anger against Chief Minister Raje that will favour the Congress, he claimed, adding that his party will provide “good alternative governance with all-round development and ensure welfare of all”.
He, however, admitted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign and BJP chief Amit Shah’s organisational skills may help the BJP reclaim a bit, but said people of the state have decided to oust the Raje government in the state and the BJP from the country.