‘His plan is to reach out to new candidates popular on the ground and assure them that they will get tickets’.
As Assembly elections are drawing close, Ashok Gehlot is seen to be strengthening his hold on the rank and file of his cadre. Sources suggest that he is keen on picking up candidates who have the potential to win Assembly seats and offer them tickets which would help him break the jinx of Rajasthan being a swing state.
A political analyst working with Congress said, “His plan is to reach out to the new candidates who are popular on the ground and give them assurance that they will get tickets. He will reach out to those who have high possibility of winning. Even if they are from the Sachin Pilot camp, they will enter Gehlot’s faction just because they will have assurance of getting tickets. Moreover, Pilot is genuinely doing nothing against Gehlot. He is silent. Now what is important is who will get enough tickets—Pilot or Gehlot.”
The ticket distribution is seen to be an important step in Rajasthan Congress if the party wants to retain the state. Surveys accessed by The Sunday Guardian suggest that there are more than 40 seats which are vulnerable and if the candidates are not replaced, the party will have a challenging task of retaining such seats.
The Assembly seats where the people are unsatisfied with their legislators are Bhinmal, Merta, Pali, Bali, Sumerpur, Phalodi, Jhunjhunu, Chaksu, Bagru, Dhod, Jhotwara, Amer, Kishanpole, Jhadol, Dungarpur. Apart from these there are Garhi, Kapasan, Ahore, Ajmer North, Ajmer South, Aspur, Badi Saddi, Chittorgarh. Dungargarh, Ghatol, Jaitaran, Kumbhalgarh, Ladpura, Lunkaransar, Manoharthana, Mavli are also included in this.
Udaipur city, Ratangarh, Sagwara, Sangaria, Tijara, Behror, Thanagaji, Bassi, Dudu, Shahpura, Khandela, Sirohi and Gangapur city.
Party insiders presume that around 80 tickets could be cut down out of those 200 candidates who were given tickets last time, which includes around 10 ministers (out of 19 ministers) and also around 40 sitting MLAs.
Moreover, it is also being seen by political observers that there is not much focus from Gehlot on the Gujjar community. A political observer in Rajasthan said, “That is because they will support Pilot eventually. Plus, there are less chances that Congress will be able to win as many as they won last time, as the Gujjar community (which is around 8% in Rajasthan) itself seems to be drifting away from the Congress because they have always wanted Pilot to take the charge of Rajasthan. That possibility for now seems a far cry. So, the idea is to appease other sections of society.”
Asked if there will be resistance from Pilot in anyway, a political analyst based in Rajasthan said, “It is true that there is not much movement from Pilot, but even if there is, what will happen? The show is all run by Gehlot here. And now if Pilot meets the Gandhis and seeks support from them, what will they do? They will convince him to be patient because the high command has been unable to do anything against Gehlot. Gehlot has also struck down any involvement from the high command that has threatened his existence. All the top Congressmen who have been given responsibility of Rajasthan have leaned towards Gehlot. Or rather, he has convinced them enough to be on his side.”