Lok Sabha Elections 2024: After Congress' good show in Rajasthan, Govind Singh Dotasra emerges as dependable leader

Dotasra says he campaigned in at least 17 constituencies and raised the issue of unemployment, farmers, Agniveer, reservation and Constitution, which actually affect the people.
Last Updated : 06 June 2024, 13:40 IST
Last Updated : 06 June 2024, 13:40 IST

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Jaipur: The surprisingly good showing of Congress in Rajasthan’s Lok Sabha elections is expected to realign the leadership issues in the state unit as the desert state is no longer synonymous with just Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot. 

Now the state Congress president Govind Singh Dotasra’s stocks also seems to be rising.   

The 59-year-old Dotasra, who has never lost an election since 2008, is being considered as one of the architects of Congress’s amazing turnaround in a state, that had witnessed a complete washout in all of the 25 seats in the last two elections of 2014 and 2019 coupled with a dismal loss in 2023 Assembly elections. 

Additionally Congress got a vote share of 37.9 per cent as compared to last time’s 34.2 per cent with no seats. It also managed to dent the vote share of BJP as it recorded a decline of 10 per cent. In this election, the Congress which was expected to win 5 to 7 seats has ended up winning 11 seats, eight on its own and three alliance seats.

Although the candidate selections are said to have been done by the top two leaders of state -- Pilot and Gehlot -- much of the legwork including reaching out to the allies and campaigning in almost all the seats rested with Dotasra.

Dotasra says he campaigned in at least 17 constituencies and raised the issue of unemployment, farmers, Agniveer, reservation and Constitution, which actually affect the people. 

And as such Congress managed to win three seats in the Jat dominated Shekhawati region. Although part of the credit is due to Dotasra’s campaign strategy, he refuses to be in the spotlight, emphasising a collective effort.   

The remarkable turnaround from zero to 11 seats has a few heroes, the first of course being Pilot, whose candidate selections in six of the eight victorious seats has been spot on with his chosen ones romping home in Karauli-Dholpur, Dausa, Tonk-Sawai Madhopur, Jhunjhunu, Churu and Bharatpur constituencies.

However Gehlot’s choices tanked surprisingly in case of his own son in Jalore, who faced a major defeat of over two lakh votes and also in Pali and Udaipur. Political observers say Gehlot’s future is uncertain in state politics and he is more likely to move on to central politics.  

On the other hand, Pilot, who fell out of favour after his rebellion and Dotasra seemed to have arrived for now.

Pilot and Dotasra criss-crossed the state attending over 100 rallies and mobilising the workers on the ground. 

Mohan Prakash, general secretary, Congress, told DH“Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo and Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatras had already aroused the workers and they had this feeling that it was their last chance to save their party and democracy. They now had a vision. It was a collective effort.” 

But even a collective effort in face of adverse times needs an impetus to get things going, opine poll observers.  

“What was needed to get the grassroot workers going was a little nudge in the right direction. And that was ably provided by Dotasra and Pilot,” says Sunny Sebastian, a senior political analyst.  

Dotasra managed to get the factional groups in the Congress stand united behind the candidates, even in case of alliance candidates. He himself was seen campaigning vigorously in Sikar, even getting the spectators to groove with him on desi folk songs in some of the campaigns.

Being a Jat, he was able to gather support from the community, who were angry with the BJP over MSP, agrarian crisis and especially Agniveer scheme. Sikar and surrounding areas have at least one member in the family in the defence forces and Congress was able to cash in on this issue. 

Sebastian says: “Dotasra is soft-spoken, mild mannered and accessible. Those are his plus points. Workers don’t get intimidated to meet him. He is seen as reliable and was not removed even after the defeat in 2023 Assembly polls, which proves his staying power.  Although supposed to be closer to Gehlot, he is not known to take sides now and is considered neutral. And as such campaigned for everybody and is able to take along everybody.”  

Dotasra, who had taken over the reins of the state Congress in 2020 when the party was going through a tumultuous time in the wake of Pilot’s rebellion and a clear distance between two groups, has been able to keep the Congress flock together since then, although there have been some high-profile defections before the Assembly elections.

Dotasra, a lawyer, has risen from the grassroots, having been elected as a pradhan in his native Laxmangarh Panchayat Samiti as early as 2005. He hails from  farmer’s family in Kriparam Ji Ki Dhani in Laxmangarh in Sikar- a Jat-dominated district of Shekhawati region. Coming from a region, which boasts of strong Jat leaders and politically connected families like the Ola family,  Sumitra Singh, Kamla Beniwal, Mehriya family and others, Dotasra carved a niche for himself under the tutelage of Narayan Singh Choudhury, a former PCC chief, minister and MLA, who also belongs to Sikar. 

Dotasra first contested in 2008 from Laxmangarh and won with a vote share of around 25 per cent. Thereafter there has been no looking, having won the seat consecutively in 2013, 2018, and 2023. His vote share now stands at 52.51per cent. A good orator, he was first noticed on the floor of the House. As a deputy chief whip when the party was in Opposition, he kept the questions coming. Although Gehlot’s protege, he has been able to keep himself away from groupism and has not politicised the atmosphere. 

As one who just doesn’t talk but walks the talk, Dotasra, inspired by Rahul Gandhi, had once made it mandatory for all in Congress state units to walk 15 kms once a month to connect with the people in the villages if they wanted to become a MLA, or ministers. 

Dotasra certainly seems to have walked the extra mile this time, emerging as a dependable leader.  

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Published 06 June 2024, 13:40 IST

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