Gehlot, Cong's 'magician' in Rajasthan

Gehlot, Cong's 'magician' in Rajasthan

Senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot. PTI

He is adept at tricks that magicians can perform but he may not have to use those skills to become the chief minister again.

It is widely believed in Rajasthan that if the Congress gets the majority in the Assembly elections, Ashok Gehlot, who has often said he would have been a magician had he not entered politics, would be the next chief minister.

“I would have been a magician if I had not entered politics. I always loved social work and learning magic tricks. In future, I may not get a chance to become a magician, but magic is in my soul,” the two-time chief minister had said during an interview recently.

Gehlot’s father Babu Laxman Singh Daksh was a professional magician and used to travel to different cities to perform.

The young Gehlot, too, would travel with him learning the tricks of the trade.

Many in the Congress’ circles say Gehlot had performed magic tricks before a young Rahul and Priyanka in the presence of Indira Gandhi. But he never admits it.

The Congress strongman, who is contesting from the Sardarapura seat in Jodhpur for the fifth time, is known for his simplicity and easy manners which have won him people’s love and affection.

Across Rajasthan, he is said to identify people by their names. Whenever he is in Jodhpur, Gehlot makes it a point to sit outside his residence and talk to all those who visit him.

The 67-year-old seasoned politician is known as a good administrator who refused to be drawn into controversies. A shrewd politician, Gehlot knew how to get out of difficult situations when in power, by setting up committees and warding off criticism.

“He is always guarded, tries to be politically correct. But nevertheless, he is a people’s person and has a spotless record”, says Mahesh Bora, a Congress loyalist.

Many in the Congress believe that Gehlot will have a trick or two up his sleeve in order to become the chief minister again, should the party win the election.

The party may see some squabbling for the top post if Sachin Pilot, the Rajasthan Congress president who too is contesting, wins.

After the Congress lost the 2013 Assembly election, party president Rahul Gandhi made Gehlot general secretary.

As the Gujarat in-charge, Gehlot was given credit for giving the BJP a run for its money in the Assembly election. Gehlot, who has always maintained distance from the media, is known to have good control over the administrative machinery.

“He knows how to take everybody along, was accessible to officers and people. He may not be media-friendly but he has improved as an Opposition leader”, a supporter told DH at the Jodhpur party office. Gehlot, who was spotted by Indira Gandhi, has survived in Rajasthan politics for over four decades. Many believe that he effectively sidelined leaders including Parasram Maderna, Nathu Ram Mirdha and others.

Though ticket distribution became an issue in the election, Gehlot is said to have gained an upper hand in this.

There were some last minute changes and some inductions from the BJP all because of Gehlot’s push.