Pilot- Gehlot tus­sle gath­ers mo­men­tum

In­fight­ing within Congress ev­i­dent af­ter exit polls

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE - Yuvraj Shri­mal

Jaipur: The Congress clearly seemed buoyed on Satur­day, a day af­ter most opin­ion polls pre­dicted the party will re­turn to power in Ra­jasthan. Amid the signs of glee also sur­faced bit­ter in­fight­ing within its state unit.

Se­nior Ra­jasthan Congress lead­ers rushed to New Delhi late on Fri­day evening to dis­cuss the pos­si­bil­i­ties of gov­ern­ment for­ma­tion and the next chief minister, an is­sue that has re­mained con­tentious with sev­eral claimants to the throne within the party. Exit polls said the Congress will likely win any­where be­tween 101 and 141 seats in the 200- mem­ber As­sem­bly.

The fight has largely re­mained con­cen­trated be­tween Pradesh Congress Com­mit­tee chief Sachin Pilot and for­mer chief minister Ashok Gehlot, both of whom were holed up in meetings with Congress lead­er­ship in na­tional cap­i­tal through Satur­day.

In the state, state Congress unit spokesper­son and for­mer leg­is­la­tor Pratap Singh Khachariyawas took on Gehlot over his state­ment on can­di­dates who could be­come the CM in case the party gets the man­date. “I read in the papers that he [ Gehlot] has said the party has five faces

who could be pro­jected as the next CM. But MLAs of the party de­cide who will be our leader af­ter the re­sults are out,” Khachariyawas told re­porters on Satur­day.

The leg­is­la­tor is a known Pilot aide and has been a con­stant in all his ral­lies and pub­lic meetings in Jaipur. Re­spond­ing to his state­ment, Gehlot quipped, “He [ Khacha-

riyawas] is right. Rahul ji will de­cide who will be the next CM of Ra­jasthan.”

Gehlot who has twice served as the CM was pro­moted as the Pradesh Congress Com­mit­tee chief at 34. The Congress chose him as the CM face in 1998 sidelin­ing party heavy­weights like Nawal Kishore Sharma and Paras Ram Maderna.

Done with the gru­elling elec­tion cam­paign­ing for now, Mad­hya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan puts his mo­tor skills to good use else­where

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