4 Dec 2023

Rajasthan: Ashok Gehlot wizard of politics stepping away from spotlight in desert state

Ashok Gehlot, the veteran politician often referred to as a "wizard," is stepping away from the spotlight in Rajasthan. Earlier this year, he humorously expressed his reluctance to leave the chief minister's post, sending a clear message to the Congress leadership about his desire to retain the role if the party emerged victorious in the assembly polls.

Over the past several months, the 72-year-old, with a magician father's legacy, employed every political trick to secure his position. Despite internal party challenges, Gehlot resisted pressures to step down.

Last year, MLAs loyal to him even defied the party high command by boycotting the Congress Legislature Party meeting summoned in Jaipur to possibly pave the way to the CM's post for Sachin Pilot, who in 2020 led a rebellion against the older colleague. 

The Gandhis had suggested a shift to national politics, but Gehlot remained steadfast in his state leadership.

His focus turned to reviving the Congress's fortunes in a state that historically has not re-elected the same party for three decades. Gehlot implemented various welfare measures, including subsidized cooking gas and a substantial medical insurance scheme, aiming to connect personally with each initiative. Had the Congress won, Gehlot was likely to be the preferred choice for chief minister over Sachin Pilot.

However, fate had a different plan. On Sunday evening, acknowledging defeat as the BJP secured a majority, Gehlot gracefully accepted the outcome. Despite this setback, Gehlot's political legacy remains intact, marked by three non-consecutive terms as Rajasthan's chief minister, a feat achieved by only a few leaders in the state's history.

Represented Jodhpur in LS five times

Gehlot's political journey began in student politics. He has represented Jodhpur in the Lok Sabha five times. In Jodhpur's Sardarpura assembly segment, he had won five times in a row. He held several key roles within the Congress. 

He gained prominence for his work with East Bengal refugees, earning recognition from Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. Gehlot's leadership in Gujarat for the AICC and subsequent appointments within the party showcase his political acumen.

Married to Sunita Gehlot, the couple has a daughter and a son, Vaibhav Gehlot, who contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. As the political dynamics in Rajasthan unfold, Gehlot finds himself in a verbal duel with Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, with accusations and counter-accusations exchanged.

As the election results unfolded, Shekhawat, referring to Gehlot's magician background, declared the end of the magic and suggested that Rajasthan had broken free from the magician's spell.

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