New Delhi: With the Congress keeping open the issue of its leadership in Rajasthan, party stalwart and two-time chief minister Ashok Gehlot said Sunday no post is a priority for him and that he will abide by the decision of the high command on the chief ministerial post if the party comes to power.
The Congress on Wednesday ended the suspense over whether Gehlot and Rajasthan state party chief Sachin Pilot would contest the 7 December Assembly polls by deciding to field both of them.
While Gehlot, 67, is a sitting MLA from Sardarpura, Pilot, 41, is contesting the state poll for the first time from Tonk. Pilot has been a former MP from Dausa and then from Ajmer.
Not ruling himself out of the race for the top post in the state should Congress win, Gehlot in an exclusive interview to PTI said he would be open to any role Congress president Rahul Gandhi assigns him in the interest of the party.
"I am ready for whatever role Congress president gives me. I am against any kind of lobbying for any position. I have never lobbied even when I faced dissidence as chief minister. If they (the high command) send me to Rajasthan in party interest, it will be their decision," the powerful All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary said.
He said he is "more than satisfied" with his long political career as a five-time Lok Sabha MP, three time Union minister and chief minister for 10 years.
"No post is a priority for me. I am more than satisfied with my political innings and the question before me now is how to bring the party in power in Rajasthan first and then in the country under the leadership of Congress president Rahul Gandhi. I will be ready for any role I am assigned," he said when asked if he is in the race for chief ministership should Congress come to power.
Asked whether the fact that all top state leaders contesting elections in Rajasthan will trigger a leadership tussle, after the polls, Gehlot said the "issue of chief minister will be amicably resolved by the party high command which will take a decision on three grounds - party interest, public and MLAs' sentiments."
"There will be no problem. The high command's decision will be acceptable to all... Whatever they decide will be acceptable to all," he said, accusing the BJP of raising the chief minister issue for political reasons.
On whether there will be a new chief ministerial face other than him or Pilot, Gehlot said it will be the party high command's decision.
He also said the decision on who the next chief minister will be shall not be hampered by the presence of the entire top state brass in elections.
On being asked why all state leaders were contesting in Rajasthan, unlike in Madhya Pradesh, he said it was a decision which the Congress president has taken, and he welcomed it.
"The politics in Rajasthan is different and the Congress leadership believes that all the leaders who wish to contest should do so," Gehlot said.
"I want the party's flag to fly high both in Rajasthan and across the country, as the present atmosphere is dangerous for the country and people want the Congress to return to power both in the state and at the Centre," he added.
The AICC general secretary said the party has a tradition of not declaring its chief minister candidate in advance and that tradition will be respected.
He alleged that it was a BJP conspiracy to raise such an issue to create divisions within the Congress and the people understand this.
"The BJP does not have any right to ask who the Congress chief ministerial face is, as they themselves did not have a state party chief for 75 days," Gehlot said.
On giving tickets to parachute candidates, he said former BJP leader Manvendra Singh has been fielded against chief minister Vasundhara Raje based on a political strategy and is an exception.
Gehlot said the Congress will soon declare its manifesto, which will spell out steps to tackle farm distress and to improve the law and order.
"There is a lot of anger against the chief minister that will favour the Congress," he claimed, adding that his party will provide "good alternative governance with all-round development and ensure welfare of all".
He, however, admitted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's campaign and BJP chief Amit Shah's organisational skills may help the BJP reclaim a bit, but said people of the state have decided to oust the Raje government in the state and the BJP from the country.
Updated Date: Nov 18, 2018 23:21 PM