BJP eyes opportunity in Congress prez poll

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, September 20: In all likelihood, Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor will have a friendly contest with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in the election for the post of the Congress president. That is on account of former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi being adamant that he would lead the party without holding the top post.

Gehlot is a Gandhi loyalist, and he’s not expected to go the Sitaram Kesri way, while leading the opposition party. Tharoor’s flamboyance is being seen within Congress for entertainment value, as he stands no chance to win even the votes of the Kerala delegates in the Electoral College of the party.

Sources have told The Raisina Hills that Gehlot’s readiness to enter the fray in the election for the post of president of Congress is conditional. He will have the say in picking his nominee as his successor for the post of the chief minister in Rajasthan.

Gehlot is a Congress veteran, who is known to know the Congress workers in each village in Rajasthan by names. That is his involvement in the party affairs in Rajasthan. He’s in no mood to leave the home turf for someone who is not his loyalist to run the show.

That positions Sachin Pilot, the chief minister in waiting, in a tight spot. If Pilot doesn’t get the post of the chief minister in the event Gehlot leaves for New Delhi to lead Congress, he will find himself in a similar situation as had been with Navjot Singh Siddhu, who to his dismay found the post of the chief minister going to Charanjit Singh Channi after his rebellion scalped Captain Amarinder Singh.

“Doors for Pilot in the BJP are always open,” said a senior BJP functionary.

The BJP’s interest in the presidential election in Congress is also growing for the fact that the saffron outfit has shown an extraordinary love for leaders from the ranks of the opposition party.

The saffron outfit is learnt to be not in a hurry to go for power in Rajasthan, but wants a broad leadership basket in the state for the next year’s Assembly elections.

The BJP’s search for an alternative leadership in Rajasthan has proven to be futile amid overwhelming influence of the former chief minister Vasundhara Raje.

Additionally, the BJP hopes to cash in on the disaffection in the Pilot camp if the Gujjar leader is not given the post of the chief minister in Rajasthan.

The BJP’s Rajasthan social base is made of Jat-upper castes, and the Gujjar constituency could help the saffron outfit wrest power in the next year’s polls.

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