The 2013 Legislative Assembly elections for the state of Rajasthan were momentous in many ways. While the Bhartiya Janata Party came into power with a majority history had never seen before, the then incumbent Indian National Congress party lost its face (arms and limbs) with the party reducing down to 21 with a loss of 75 seats in the Vidhan Sabha. The results were shocking, but only for the Congress party, since people had seen through the below-poor and ignorant governance of the then ruling Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. Congress government’s then ad campaign ‘Pehli Baar Hua Rajasthan Mein’ had fallen flat on their faces with the Janta pehli baar rejecting a Party that has been ruling since the last 60 years in a manner that left Congress with no grace in Rajasthan.
Even after such a can’t-show-their-faces descend, the Congress Party refuses to learn from their mistakes. With Rahul Gandhi as their ‘best asset’, it seems like India’s oldest political party is actually facing the possibility of getting virtually obliterated from India’s political map. The sweep down (literally!) of INC from Rajasthan should have been a big alarm for the Party Cadre. But seems that the Congressis are more than oblivious to the crisis.
In their last term, scams hit the Congress like a series of tsunamis. The consistent rounds of sporadic revolts within Congress built their coffin, nail by nail. The fact that Congress is the fiefdom of the Gandhis does not seem to be helping them anymore. Having been at the losing end in all forms of elections – assembly, municipal, panchayat or by-elections, the Congress party seems to be heading nowhere in Rajasthan. The rift between senior and comparatively young leaders in the Rajasthan Congress is a fact well-known and well-seen. The story of this power-fight between congress leaders is not new. It is well known that Ashok Gehlot was made the Chief Minister in Rajasthan because of his close proximity with ‘High Command’ Sonia Gandhi. Things took a turn when the crown was passed on to the ‘Yuvraaj’ Rahul Gandhi who is known to be close to his long-time friend Sachin Pilot. As a result, in March this year, Sachin Pilot took the Congress mantle from Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan. It was a huge shock, and not just for the party workers, when Sachin Pilot was portrayed as the Young hero who will rescue the Congress out of abyss. Mainly because the 38-year-old Pilot is neither young, nor a hero. The hero lost out to BJP’s Sanwar Lal Jat in Ajmer with an alarming defeat margin to be nearly 1.72 lakh votes. When the powers were being shifted, Senior Congress leader Lal Chand Kataria held back because of former rift with Pilot. Vishvendra Singh got on Gehlot’s nerves with his loud support to Sachin. Gurudas Kamat, AICC general secretary in charge of Rajasthan, was one of the firsts to raise his arm, nudging the others to follow suit. Given how congress leaders are known to follow instructions, Girija Vyas, Chandra Bhan and B.D. Kalla, all former PCC chiefs sidelined and edged out by Gehlot, joined the growing chorus of support for Pilot. Another embarrassment for the Gehlot mehekma was when Sushil Asopa, slammed the former chief minister on Facebook, advising him to embrace sanyaas. Asopa had alleged that through two chief ministerial tenures, president-ship of the PCC for eight years and multiple terms as Union minister, Gehlot only managed to sink the Congress boat in his home state of Rajasthan, whenever he became the chief minister. Dramatized feuds between former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and former Union Minister C. P. Joshi (who also lost, by the way) are well known in Rajasthan.
The situation is such that the traditionally loyal congress voters are switching to the saffron side. This maybe because, unlike Congress, BJP cadre has learnt from the mistakes of their past. Current Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has not just been able to keep her purposeless critics at bay, but has also managed to reduce their existence to nothing. Along side, she has been relentlessly (and popularly) working towards major overhaul of the state of governance in Rajasthan with her motto of People First actually turning to reality. Brushing aside all political agendas, she seems to working full hands with her own development outlines that are actually bringing impactful changes in the lives of the people on ground.
With the Raje Government actually bringing in the A-game with actual firsts in Rajasthan, the baffling of Ashok Gehlot is quite understandable. Although, it’s time Mr. Gehlot realizes that uncivilized accusations and making facts out of thin air isn’t going to work this time. Mr. Pilot also has to realize that pretty faces and elite holidays do not win the hearts of the people.
It’s been 60 years of Congress making a fool out of people. Now, the mask is off. If the congress party in Rajasthan does not change its ways (which is doubtful), they may soon be seen just in the history textbooks.
Written by a Guest Author