In what could be termed as major embarrassment for Congress in Rajasthan, one of the top ministers in the Gehlot government, Ashok Chandna made a public appeal to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to relieve him from a “humiliating” post.
Chandna is handling multiple portfolios including that of Sports and Youth Affairs, Skill Development, Employment, Entrepreneurship, and Disaster Management and Relief. He is also considered close to the Rajasthan CM.
On 26 May, the Minister tweeted that he urges the CM to free him from dishonourable post and hand over the charge to Kuldeep Ranka, the Principal Secretary to the CM. He added that Ranka is anyway “minister of all departments”. After the outburst, CM Gehlot is playing down the incident.
Elections to four seats to Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan are due next month, for which it is crucial to keep the rank and file together. Also, the question of old guard versus young blood in playing the loudest within Congress’s Rajasthan state unit. The central leadership of the party is due to take a decision on its CM candidate for the elections in 2023 by July this year.
The reason for the haste in deciding the CM face could be the fear of repeating the Punjab debacle in Rajasthan. Post Chintan Shivir, there is growing consensus towards promotion of young leaders in the party.
Congress is also trying to project itself as the party of the youth. In the past, it has lost several young faces, including Jyotiraditya Scindia and Jitendra Prasad, who have left the party, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Sachin Pilot has been vocal about his ambitions since the 2018 state elections, where he was dumped in favour of Ashok Gehlot for the chief ministership. He has been waiting patiently for the party to give his due.
The next two months seem to be crucial for the political future of CM Gehlot as well as for the Congress in Rajasthan.
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