New Delhi, Nov. 10: Chief minister Ashok Gehlot was stamped all over the list of 192 Congress candidates for the Rajasthan Assembly polls released here this evening.
With the high command firmly behind him, Gehlot succeeded in giving tickets to over two dozen of his loyal- ists who are sitting legislators, including many ministers, braving an intense intra-party campaign against their renomination.
Over two-thirds of the candidates on the list, released by party general secretary Ambika Soni, enjoy Gehlot’s endorsement, a senior party functionary said. But 21 MLAs, including a minister, were dropped at his behest to field 17 new faces.
In a bid to ensure his say in the selection, Gehlot bought peace with some senior colleagues from the state, many of them his rivals. He accommodated the requests of at least half-a-dozen of these leaders for tickets to relatives.
He also left untouched most of the seats held by his rivals’ supporters in the 200-member Assembly, a source said.
Gehlot defended the nomination of the relatives. “They have all been active in public life,” he said, insisting that “winnability” was the reason for denying tickets to 21 legislators.
Congress Working Committee member Natwar Sin- gh’s son Jagat has been fielded from Lakshmangarh, AICC general secretary Nawal Kishore Sharma’s son Brij Kishore from Jaipur rural, former Lok Sabha Speaker Balram Jakhar’s nephew Vinod Kumar Chaudhury from Hanumangarh, Lok Sabha member Sisram Ola’s son Brijendra from Jhunjhunu and senior leader Chandan Mal Baid’s son Chandrashekhar Baid from Taranagar.
The chief minister is believed to have given two more seats to Natwar’s nominees in Alwar district. They are Mahendra Shastri from Mundawar and Sampart Ram from the Khairthal reserved seat.
In the process, the chief minister sacrificed his minister of state for welfare Chandrashekhar, the Khairthal MLA. “Chandrashekhar’s record has been satisfactory and better than half of the 44 ministerial colleagues of Gehlot,” a senior leader said.
The Congress’ influential Jat lobby, which had run a campaign for allocation of more seats to the community, will have to do with two seats less than the 36 allocated in 1998.
Gehlot himself will seek re-election from his Sardarp- ura seat in Jodhpur district. Soni’s choice, AICC secretary Daljeet Singh, has been fielded from Bari.