Weathering political storms, Rajasthan CM emerges as ‘Chanakya’ of the Congress.


New Delhi: On many occasions in the last three years, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot proved his political prowess by saving his government amid conspiracy by his opponents. In view of his political successes, Gehlot has come to be known as “Chanakya of the Congress”.

He quite efficiently handled the situation in the wake of the outbreak of Covid-19 and drought in the state. He was internationally acclaimed for his effective steps to deal with the corona pandemic. Even as the Gehlot government completed three years in office on 17 December, the work of the dispensation was appreciated by the CM’s rivals as well. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also lauded Gehlot’s work on a couple of occasions. The Central government had asked other states to follow Rajasthan in terms of tackling the pandemic.

When Rajasthan was reeling under massive drought during Gehlot’s first term 1998-2003, the CM effectively ensured that no starvation death occurred in the state by distributing food-grains among the affected people. By dint of Gehlot’s hard work, Rajasthan became the first state to have controlled the corona pandemic. Politically also, Ashok Gehlot upstaged his opponents. His government completed three years on 17 December. Gehlot, who has 50 years of political experience, faced several challenges during these three years of his term. But he handled all the challenges calmly. When he became CM for the first time in 1998, he successfully tackled all crises including the political one. He faced challenges due to dissidents from his party. But he dealt with the same. Despite all the tough situations, Gehlot gave priority to public work. He helped drought-hit populations by generously distributing food grain.

In the second term, Gehlot implemented several schemes for welfare of common people. The reason for Gehlot’s electoral losses in between was the trend to give Congress and BJP chances to form government alternatively in Rajasthan. At one point of time, Gehlot faced massive problems because of his rivals in the party. He knew the BJP was ‘looking for such elements to create trouble for him’. True to his anticipation, efforts were made to topple his government. But his political acumen helped him to survive. On the contrary, Kamal Nath could not apply a similar sense of political understanding, with the result that his government fell in MP.

After saving his government, Gehlot not only upstaged his rivals, but also got much closer to the high command. The high command gave Gehlot free hand to manage organizational matters in Rajasthan. Internal tussle intensified in the BJP. Gehlot also defended the Gandhi family against the attacks by dissenters. Gehlot remained unmoved even after ED raids were carried out against his family members and close relatives. He continued to attack the Modi government and the BJP. He dubbed the Centre as a regime which is against the poor. He slammed the Modi government for unemployment, price rise, etc.

Observers believe that the Gehlot government may retain power in the next election, given the changing political scenario. Gehlot is also hopeful of his return, so he is trying to please all sections of the party. He will make much-delayed political appointments soon. After the by-election victory, Gehlot is already working to build a campaign for the next electoral battle. He proved his popularity by making the Jaipur rally a big success. He has realized that the implementation of schemes for the common man will help him get back to power in the next polls. The Congress will also benefit from the BJP being divided. If BJP fails to perform strongly in UP, then former CM Vasundhara Raje’s supporters’ claim will be stronger. And if BJP performs well in UP, then it will be a setback for Raje supporters. In both situations, the Congress will be gaining, and Gehlot may return to power.