Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot. Photo: PTI
Jaipur/Jodhpur: After Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot declared that he would contest the Congress president poll, party workers and people in Sachin Pilot's constituency Tonk are upbeat that their long wait to see him heading the state will soon be a reality.
On the other hand, many in Gehlot's hometown Jodhpur want him to continue as the chief minister even if he becomes the Congress' national president.
Ahead of the crucial Congress Legislature Party meeting in Jaipur on Sunday evening, posters carrying quotes such as 'Naye Yug ki Taiyari' (preparing for a new era) in support of Pilot have surfaced in Jodhpur.
Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) member Saud Saidi said people in Tonk are eagerly waiting for the party to take a decision in favour of Pilot and they believe that if he becomes the chief minister, the district will benefit immensely.
“As the MLA of Tonk constituency, Pilot has been quite active. If he becomes the chief minister, the pace at which various developmental works are being undertaken will increase," Saidi told PTI.
"People have been waiting for four years, and now, it is believed that Pilot is surely going to become the chief minister. Tonk needs industries and employment opportunities, and if the chief minister is from Tonk, the place will certainly get many benefits," he said.
In the 2018 Assembly elections, Pilot won the Tonk seat with a margin of 54,159 votes, defeating the BJP's Yunus Khan, who was a minister in the Vasundhara Raje government.
Another Congress leader in Tonk said that there is no leader better than Pilot to fill in Gehlot's shoes.
“There is no one other than Pilot who can be made the chief minister after Gehlot. This is the perception among the people. Pilot is young and energetic, has acceptability in all “36 kaum” and not only among the Gurjars, and he is the only leader in the state who has the potential to ensure the Congress party's victory in the next assembly elections,” Laxman Chaudhary told PTI.
Chaudhary was the president of the Tonk district Congress Committee before the unit was dissolved in 2020, following Pilot's rebellion against Gehlot.
Former Congress state unit member Karan Singh Uhiyarda said the reins of the state should go to a young and dynamic leader such as Sachin Pilot.
"Undoubtedly, Ashok Gehlot has no match for heading the party on the national level due to his sincerity, experience and organisational abilities, but the state needs Pilot, who has worked hard in the last Assembly election," he said.
A leader, who did not wish to be named, said Pilot's supporters are confident about his elevation as the chief minister but they are silent and waiting for the official word to be out.
However, In Jodhpur, many of the party leaders and workers want to see Gehlot holding both positions, while some others are of the view that Gehlot as the Congress president should solely focus on reviving the party in the entire country.
Veteran Congress leader and state PCC former member Pawan Mehta said it is a matter of pride for all of the party members if Gehlot goes on to head the grand old party.
"It is really a big thing. He is so rooted... With his excellent organisational skills, he will be able to infuse energy among the workers and thus bring the party to life", Mehta said.
“What we feel is that Ashok Gehlot should be allowed to hold both the positions together for the greater good of the party. He has introduced the best schemes which have earned wide appreciation, and if he continues as the chief minister, there will be high chances of the Congress retaining power in the next elections,” he added.
Another leader also said Gehlot's elevation as national president is a matter of pride for not only Jodhpur but for entire Rajasthan, and even if he quits as the chief minister, he will be the party high command and a power centre in national politics.
Gehlot is all set to contest the election for the party president, and most likely relinquish the chief minister's post, with party leader Rahul Gandhi insisting on implementing the 'one man-one post' principle.
Gehlot and Pilot were at loggerheads for the chief minister's post soon after the Congress won the Assembly elections in December 2018. The high command then chose Gehlot as the chief minister for the third time while Pilot was made his deputy.
In July 2020, Pilot along with 18 party MLAs rebelled against Gehlot's leadership.
The one-month-long political crisis ended after Rahul Gandhi's intervention, but Pilot was sacked as the deputy chief minister as well as the state PCC chief. PTI