Rajasthan Cong puts aside Rahul criterion

Party vice-president Rahul Gandhi had insisted on a “clean” track record.

Written by Sweta Dutta | Published: November 12, 2013 1:46:13 am

Ticket distribution inevitably soils the hands of party chiefs,but in Rajasthan,the resentment among disappointed leaders is haunting BJP chief ministerial candidate Vasundhara Raje more than CM Ashok Gehlot.

The Congress may have had to eat its own words and ignore the ‘clean image’ criterion in nominating most sitting legislators,but that has meant a smoother ride so far. Party vice-president Rahul Gandhi had insisted on a “clean” track record,but in its final call,the Congress generously handed out tickets to brothers,mothers and wives of tainted legislators unquestioningly.

The internal differences in the Congress state unit and the Gehlot vs C P Joshi battle in fact may have come to the aid of the party. Few can now hold it against Gehlot or any particular leader for the unpleasant choices made. Even as Gehlot had to drop Health Minister Rajkumar Sharma,it was conveniently blamed on dissident MP Sis Ram Ola and rumours are still abuzz that the CM is fighting to accommodate Sharma on another seat. Sharma,who has announced he will be contesting as an Independent,will back Gehlot when push comes to shove.

Joshi too has managed to bargain in favour of his supporters. If Ram Lal Jat has secured a berth in Asind,the Nathdwara seat which Joshi lost last time was handed out to Devkinandan Gurjar. Joshi’s men Pramod Jain Bhaya and Sanyam Lodha also got tickets.

Right from the beginning,the Congress had held most of its ticket meetings in Delhi,with Rahul being projected as the decision maker. That has also helped stave off some name-calling.

Raje,who had made it clear that it was her show,faces more problems. Right from the initial meetings at her Dholpur palace to the last-minute deliberations at her Delhi residence,election hopefuls were lining up at her doorstep. Even the state election committee was full of Raje loyalists.

It is no surprise that at least 20 former and sitting legislators have distanced themselves after being denied a ticket for the December 1 polls,with their supporters holding protests. Over 12 of these leaders have quit the BJP to join Kirori Lal Meena’s National People’s Party,while Madan Dilawar,Manek Chand Surana,Narendra Kanwar are set to contest as Independents. In poll-bound Rajasthan,too many cooks might well have saved the broth for the Congress. But,as the BJP hopes,there are many a slip between the cup and the lip.

Sweta is a principal correspondent based in Jaipur

sweta.dutta@expressindia.com

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