After the Congress rout in Rajasthan, the biggest question doing the rounds in state politics is: Will Ashok Gehlot go as chief minister for failing to win even a single seat for the party in Lok Sabha election?
Some senior BJP leaders are indicating that the Congress government in the state may also be in danger, claiming that some Congress legislators were in touch with the BJP to switch sides.
Gehlot came under attack from BJP leaders who mocked him for failing to win even Jodhpur, his home ground, for his son. Former home minister Gulab Chand Kataria said during a press conference in Udaipur on Friday that Gehlot will be removed by the Congress central leadership for failing to win even his pocket borough.
“I am sure the Congress high command will ask him to go,” Kataria said.
Another senior BJP leader, Rajendra Rathore, said the political winds in the state could blow in some other direction soon. “When a ship begins to sink, its inhabitants jump out. The Congress ship in Rajasthan has sunk with the loss in all 25 (Lok Sabha) seats. I am sure Rajasthan is headed for political change,” he said.
Former education minister Vasudev Devnani also indicated a change in the state government. “Some Congress MLAs are in touch with us. You never know what is there in store for Rajasthan,” he said in Ajmer on Friday.
The Congress has 100 MLAs in a House of 200 members, and the BJP, 73. The Congress government enjoys support of 12 Independent legislators also.
Meanwhile, there were murmurs with the Congress ranks, too, about a possible change of guard in the state.
“It’s a myth that Gehlot saab is a big leader. The party has never won under his leadership. His son, Vaibhav Gehlot, has lost even in Sardarpura, Ashok Gehlot’s constituency,” said a leader on condition of anonymity.
Congress general secretary in charge of Rajasthan, Avinash Pande, however, played down the issue of change of guard in the state.
He said the loss is a collective responsibility of the party and no one individual could be blamed for it.
“We need to sit and introspect on what went wrong – whether there was problem at the level of individuals or whether there was a systemic issue. Don’t jump to conclusion before the discussions,” he said.
Meanwhile, some local TV reports in Rajasthan suggested that the Congress may be considering making Ashok Gehlot a working president. There was however no clarity on who will be his successor.