As a child and then as a youth, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot helped his father, who was a professional magician, perform magic shows and in the process mastered the art of magic. Magic taught him many things and one of this was to keep his political adversaries guessing.
When the results of the three seats of the Rajya Sabha election was declared, his political detractors hailed the master strategist on how he achieved his goal. The result was along expected lines: Congress won two seats and the BJP one. Gehlot did not allow the game plan of the BJP to succeed.
The BJP tried to divide the Congress by fielding a second preference candidate – Onkar Singh Lakhwat – when it had votes that could win only one seat. But an alert Gehlot managed to keep the flock together and destroyed the BJP’s dreams by blowing their cover.
“The BJP tried to repeat its Karnataka, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh act in Rajasthan. But the conspiracy did not work because the Congress MLAs were not lured by the offers made to them. The Congress MLAs were kept in a hotel where we managed to drive home the point that the BJP was trying to murder democracy and we should stand united against it. The idea of keeping the MLAs together was to drill morality into them and also their responsibility to the party on whose ticket they won their Vidhan Sabha elections,” said Gehlot.
The clarion call given by Gehlot was welcomed by smaller parties like the Bhartiya Tribal Party and the CPM. The CPM has issued instructions to its two MLAs not to participate in the Rajya Sabha election, but one of them, Balwan Punia, defied the same and voted for the Congress candidates. The second MLA, Girdhari Lal, abstained from voting.
“The victory of the two candidates in Rajasthan will send a message to all those who defected to the BJP that they indulged in horse-trading which would have made them richer, but the people and the persons who voted for them would now treat them as traitors. These MLAs have no takers now and they are repenting,” said Gehlot.
The success of Ashok Gehlot served as a body-blow to the BJP which was successful in forming governments in Goa and in Manipur even though it lacked adequate numbers.
After this victory, Gehlot has emerged taller and he proved that the BJP’s ‘moneybag politics’ can be combated through convincing the party’s MLAs and reminding them about their responsibilities to their voters.
Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, who is also the state PCC chief, said there was never any cause of worry during the entire process. The Congress MLAs, Independent MLAs and the support from smaller parties was invincible and the BJP’s game plan could never achieve its goal as the party’s MLAs stood like a rock, he said.
KC Venugopal, AICC general secretary, expressed his gratitude to Sonia Gandhi. Venugopal as the first priority candidate polled 64 votes and the second candidate Neeraj Dangi 59 votes.