Rajasthan health minister Raghu Sharma, made AICC in-charge of Gujarat, to oversee Dadra & Nagar Haveli bypoll
Raghu Sharma, who handled COVID pandemic efficiently, has been a Lok Sabha MP, general secretary of state unit and chief of state youth Congress. He was won twice as MLA from Kekri in Ajmer district
Rajasthan’s health minister Raghu Sharma (63), who has been made the AICC in-charge for Gujarat in a sudden move by the Congress, would start his assignment by heading the party’s campaign in the Union Territory of Dadra & Nagar Haveli where a by-election for the Lok Sabha is due on October 30. Sharma has also been made in-charge for Dadra & Nagar Haveli.
After the announcement of Raghu Sharma as in-charge for Gujarat, the Congress also named Mahesh Kumar Balubhai Dhodi as its candidate for the Dadra & Nagar Haveli constituency by-election.
This will be the first election to be held there after the unification of the UTs of Daman, Diu, and Dadra & Nagar Haveli (DNH) last year which are geographically aligned with Gujarat and have two Lok Sabha constituencies between them.
The BJP has announced Mahesh Gavit, a fairly young face, as its candidate for the by-election to the Lok Sabha seat, which fell vacant following the death of independent MP Mohan Delkar in February this year.
Delkar allegedly died by suicide by hanging himself at hotel Sea Green South in Marine Drive area of Mumbai on February 22.
Delkar, who had been a member of both the Congress and BJP at different times of his political career, was elected seven times to the Lok Sabha from the Dadra and Nagar Haveli constituency. In 2019, he won the Lok Sabha poll from the seat as an independent candidate.
Based on an FIR by his son Abhinav, the Mumbai police had booked incumbent administrator of the Daman & Diu, DNH and Lakshadweep UTs Praful Patel, the then District Magistrate Sandeep Singh, the then Superintendent of Police Sharad Darade, deputy DM Apurva Sharma, sub-divisional officer Manasvi Jain, police inspector Manoj Patel, DNH law secretary Rohit Yadav, BJP leader Fatehsinh Chauhan and Dilip Patel (Talati) for abetment to suicide, criminal intimidation and other sections of the Indian Penal Code as well as under sections of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, on March 10.
The Mumbai police’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) has so far recorded the statements of some 16 witnesses in the case, according to sources.
The late Delkar’s wife Kalaben Delkar will be the Shiv Sena candidate for the bye-election.
This will be the first election for the Lok Sabha for Mahesh Dhodi, Kalaben delkar and Mahesh Gavit, who quit his job as a sub-inspector of CRPF in 2014 to join politics.
Raghu Sharma would reach Ahmedabad by late evening. He was in Vallabhnagar near Udaipur to campaign for the two Vidhan Sabha bye-elections in Vallabhnagar and Dhariyavad Assembly constituencies.
Sharma, who handled the Covid pandemic in Rajasthan efficiently, has been a member of the Lok Sabha also and has served as the President of the state youth Congress and the party’s general secretary in the state. He was elected twice to the Rajasthan Vidhan Sabha from Kekri Constituency of Ajmer district.
In the 2017 Gujarat Assembly election, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was the AICC in-charge of the state and he did a good job to rejuvenate the party. Gehlot was sent to Gujarat when he was neither holding any constitutional position nor any position in the AICC.
Interestingly, the BJP had made veteran Om Mathur as the party’s in-charge for the 2017 Gujarat Assembly poll. The Congress performed well against the formidable BJP that was ruling the state since 1995.
A few days back, Raghu Sharma visited Delhi and met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi when there was strong speculation suggesting that Sachin Pilot may take over as AICC general secretary, but Pilot told Rahul Gandhi that he would focus on Rajasthan.
There was a need to reorganize the party in Gujarat where the Assembly elections are due in December 2022. The recent change of Chief Minister of Gujarat, with Bhupendra Patel replacing Vijay Rupani, was clearly a move to appease the politically and businesswise strong Patidar community.
As both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home minister Amit Shah are from Gujarat, a lot is on stake for the two leaders in the state. Raghu Sharma’s immediate task is the Dadra & Nagar Haveli’s Lok Sabha bye-election where the Congress is facing a triangular contest. After that, he would focus on strengthening the party’s organizational structure in Gujarat by undertaking a tour of the state.
It is not clear whether Sharma would continue as Rajasthan health minister. It is learnt that he would be accommodated as the party’s general secretary.
Another minister, Harish Choudhry, who was in the three-member team of crisis management formed by the AICC for Punjab and who made a significant contribution to resolving the Punjab issue and is still active there, is also being tipped for the AICC general secretary’s assignment in Punjab.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is likely to expand his Cabinet after the two bye-elections at Vallabhnagar and Dhariyavad conclude.