The Congress Legislature Party in Rajasthan will meet on Wednesday morning to discuss who will be the new chief minister after the party finished ahead of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the state. The Congress finished just two short of the majority mark, at 99, in the swing state, with the BJP winning 73 seats.
The two front runners in the race are Rajasthan Congress Committee President Sachin Pilot and two-time chief minister Ashok Gehlot. The decision is expected to be announced after the All India Congress Committee’s observers take part in the legislators’ meeting in Jaipur to brief Congress President Rahul Gandhi after returning to Delhi, PTI reported. The victory came as Gandhi completed a year as the party chief.
“The Congress Legislature Party meeting will take place tomorrow [Wednesday],” Pilot had said on Tuesday while counting was still in progress. “AICC general secretary KC Venugopal has arrived for the meeting.”
Venugopal is expected to meet both Pilot and Gehlot individually. In a show of unity, both leaders appeared before the media in Jaipur on Tuesday.
Gehlot, who retained the Sardarpura seat, said the state’s people had given their mandate to the Congress. “The Congress will form the government,” he said. “This is the mandate of public, which is in favour of the Congress party.”
Sachin Pilot, who won from Tonk constituency, said the results were a clear mandate in the party’s favour in Rajasthan as well as in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. “It is a victory of the people of Rajasthan, they voted against politics of hate,” he said. “Rahul Gandhi is trying to take all age groups together. People who have worked for 30 to 40 years, their experience needs to be taken along.”
Pilot on Tuesday had called on Independent candidates and “like-minded” parties to support the Congress. Independents won 13 seats, Bahujan Samaj Party six, Rashtriya Loktantrik Party three, Bhartiya Tribal Party and Communist Party of India (Marxist) two seats each, and the Rashtriya Lok Dal won from a single constituency.
Raje congratulates Opposition Congress
Thirteen of the 19 ministers from the outgoing BJP government in the state lost the Assembly elections. Among the big names who tasted defeat were Agriculture Minister Prabhu Lal Saini, who lost to the Congress’ Pramod Bhaya by 34,063 votes in Anta in Baran district, Revenue Minister Amra Ram from Pachpadra in Barmer district, and Industries Minister Rajpal Singh from Jhotwara near Jaipur.
Transport Minister Yoonus Khan, the only Muslim BJP candidate in the state, was fielded against Pilot in Tonk and lost by a margin of 54,179 votes.
Outgoing chief minister Raje defeated Congress leader Manvendra Singh, the son of veteran BJP leader Jaswant Singh, by 34,980 votes in Jhalrapatan. She congratulated the Congress after submitting her resignation to Governor Kalyan Singh and said she was proud of her government’s development work.