The drama outside the Rajasthan Congress office on the Sansar Chand Road in Jaipur went on until late Wednesday evening amid sporadic sessions of slogans in favour of the two main claimants for the chief minister’s post — former chief minister Ashok Gehlot and party’s current state president Sachin Pilot.
By the evening, the expectant supporters had become weary of the wait, which still appears far from being over.
The decision on the CM’s face from the Congress, which has won 100 seats in the 200-member Assembly and is all set to form the next government, has now been put off for Thursday, even though the party staked claim at Raj Bhawan around 8pm before top leaders flew off to Delhi.
All through Wednesday, there was hectic activity inside the PCC office. The same frenzy was outside, too. Inside the newly-elected legislators were being asked their choice for the CM: Ashok Gehlot or Sachin Pilot. And outside, the supporters were shouting slogans, jostling to get into frames of new cameras and making sure their presence is felt on the narrow lane connecting Sansar Chand Road with the Station Road. The Congress office is situated on this congested stretch where a heavy deployment of security, a huge posse of camera crews and supporters and onlookers left no room for any movement.
Kya lag raha hai’ (what do you think) was a frequent line being heard inside and outside the state congress office, when the workers, leaders, passerby and even the newsperson interacted.
There were some dramatic moments: when some supporters flashed a banner claiming to have written it with their blood and to demand Pilot as the new CM; when Jat stalwart Vishvendra Singh walked out of the legislators’ meeting; when some of his supporters demanded he be declared the deputy CM.
Every time a Congress MLA emerged out of the PCC, news reporters lunged at him for some information from inside. However, most of the newly-elected legislators chose not to spill the beans on the goings-on inside.
The drama inside the PCC began around 12.45 pm when AICC general secretary and MP KC Venugopal and Avinash Pande started seeking one to one opinion of the MLAs. The feedback was later communicated to the party “high command”.
“The observer started the conversation asking about the election, political background and then asked the opinion. The process took 3-4 minutes,” said an MLA after the meeting.
Earlier, in the presence of Venugopal, Pande, Gehlot, Pilot, AICC secretaries and CP Joshi on the dais, the MLAs passed the proposal to leave the decision on electing the Congress Legislative Party leader on Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
However, in a light vein one of the MLA even suggested that ‘why not toss a coin,’ when the decision is left to high command let them decide.
The observer along with Pande straight way asked party MLAs their opinion over the CM face. All the 99 MLAs were present at the office.
The party office was made small fortress with police barricading and workers of Sewa Dal on guard.
A senior leader on anonymity said no matter how confident a leader is of being selected as party face (CM) but a sense of insecurity is there. The top leaders in race had started getting in touch with elected MLA since last night. Even early morning MLAs were seen visiting residence of the two (Gehlot and Pilot) leaders, who are frontrunners for the post.
While some wrote letters using blood as the ink lobbying Sachin Pilot to be the next chief minister, others had different demand to pass on important responsibilities to the MLAs of their choice. “It’s Pilot who has worked hard for the party. While some senior leaders were busy in Delhi, Pilot was working on grounds for the party. It’s he who revived Congress from 21 to 100,” said Avdesh Meena.
A group of supporters who came from Jodhpur and Jaislamar were shouting slogans of ‘Ashok Gehlot Zindabad’ (long live Ashok Gehlot) and ‘humara cm kaisa ho Gehlot sahib jaisa ho’ (Our CM should be like Ashok Gehlot).
Brijesh Charan , one of the supporters from Jodhpur, said, “Gehlot is Gaadhi of Rajasthan. Not only in Rajasthan but other places as well, it’s Gehlot’s image and hard work that lifted the party’s image across entire country.”
First Published: Dec 13, 2018 09:05 IST
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