Gehlot emerges key Congress leader in Rajasthan

December 9th, 2008 - 6:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyJaipur, Dec 9 (IANS) With the Congress emerging as the single largest party in the Rajasthan assembly, former chief minister Ashok Gehlot is credited with changing the party’s fortunes in the state.The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which ruled the state for the past five years, suffered a shocking defeat, managing to secure only 78 seats in the 200-member assembly. The Congress bagged 96 seats, five short of clear majority but set to form the next government.

Gehlot, 57, who was chief minister 1998-2003, is now acknowledged as the chief architect of the party’s comeback. The Congress general secretary spearheaded the party’s campaign and toured the desert state extensively, holding hundreds of public meetings.

This is a change in his fortunes - he was held responsible for the worst electoral defeat of the party in Rajasthan in the 2003 assembly elections.

“The voters have voted the BJP out of power and have voted against poor governance,” Gehlot told reporters here Tuesday.

He said the BJP government was a complete failure and corruption had become the hallmark of the Vasundhara Raje government.

“Law and order was a big problem. In 27 incidents of police firing 91 farmers were killed, the Meena and Gujjar communities felt agitated and cheated,” Gehlot said.

Asked who would be the next chief minister, Gehlot said a leader would be chosen democratically and the Congress would announce the name at an appropriate time.

“It is for the legislators and the party high command to decide. I am just a party worker and I am to take any responsibility party gives to me,” he said.

He, however, is the only key party leader to have won the assembly elections.

Gehlot attributed the party victory to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, general secretary Rahul Gandhi, Congress workers and the good work of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in New Delhi.

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