Gehlot’s able handling of COVID-19 crisis shows leadership is defined by results

During his first tenure as Rajasthan Chief Minister in 1998-2003, Ashok Gehlot had to tackle an extremely severe drought

Ashok Gehlot
Ashok Gehlot

Anil Sharma

Management guru Peter Drucker once said, “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results, not attributes.” A prime example has been Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot who is proving his skills in managing the Coronavirus crisis effectively.

Gehlot has always been up for a challenge whenever the state has faced any kind of problem. No one can forget the way Gehlot managed one of the worst droughts the state faced during his first tenure from 1998-2003 as Chief Minister of the state. Not even a single poor family was left without food during that period and his management skills were hailed by many, especially the poor and the downtrodden.

Since the first COVID-19 case was detected on March 2 in Rajasthan, Chief Minister Gehlot has been proactive. Incidentally, Rajasthan was the first state in the country that declared a lockdown from the midnight of March 21.

He has been a man on a mission ever since. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in one of his video conferences with CMs of states, had to praise Gehlot for the latter’s way of handling the Coronavirus crisis.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s routine starts early in the day and ends very late in the night. He spends hours in meetings his state cabinet colleagues and senior officials, holding VCs with district collectors and SPs to get feedback from every district of the state.

The figures speak for themselves. Rajasthan is among the top three states when it comes to testing for Coronavirus. Till May 18 morning , the state had conducted over 2.30 lakh tests. In terms of recovery too, Rajasthan’s recovery rate, at around 58 per cent, is again higher than the national average and among the top few performing states.

The cumulative number of Coronavirus positive cases in Rajasthan, as on May 18, 2020 morning, stood at 5,342 with 132 deaths and 3,068 cumulative recoveries.

His management of the spread of the lethal virus in Bhilwara, a town famous for its textile industry, became a model to emulate. Other states are now following the Bhilwara Model. As soon as he came to know that was emerging as an epicentre, the Chief Minister put in stringent measures for the safety and well being of the residents of the city.

He adopted, what he calls, ‘a ruthless containment’ strategy to contain the spread of the dangerous virus. Many had thought then that Bhilwara was headed the Italy way.

Though Bhilwara, after a gap of almost a month, is seeing resurfacing of some cases, residents are confident that Gehlot will handle this too effectively.

Gehlot is the first Chief Minister in the entire country to hold a video conference with almost all MLAs and MPs from Rajasthan, irrespective of which political party they belonged to. His behaviour was that of a true statesman as he listened to everyone and tried to give them details as to what his government’s plans were to deal with the Novel Coronavirus. Even MLAs and MPs from Opposition parties were seen praising him during the interaction which lasted for almost two days.

The CM has also been the first in the entire country to have interacted with non-resident Rajasthanis (NRRs). His interaction through a VC marks a great beginning as many of them showed interest in helping the state by the way of arranging and providing medical equipment, by investing in the state or by assisting the state in getting overseas companies to set up their manufacturing bases in the state.

Similarly, he is the first CM to hold an interactive session with industrialists and entrepreneurs in which he assured all possible cooperation and help during the present crisis. This goes a long way in building confidence. He has also set up a task force in a bid to create an investor-friendly environment and to woo investments as he knows the importance of bringing the economy back on track in the state as soon as possible. Rajasthan, as per initial reports, has suffered a revenue loss of over Rs 10,000 crore between March 22, when the lockdown began, and April 30.

(The writer is a Jaipur-based journalist)

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