Causing a major setback for the ruling BJP in Rajasthan, ahead of assembly elections, party MP from Dausa Harish Meena today joined Congress. He was welcomed by state Congress chief Sachin Pilot and former chief minister Ashok Gehlot.
Meena, who joined the BJP in 2014, is a retired IPS officer who last served as the Director General of Police of Rajasthan from March 2009 to December 2013, the longest tenure of a DGP in the state. Last month, veteran BJP leader Jaswant Singh’s son and former MLA Manvendra Singh joined the Congress. Meenas are a dominating community in Rajasthan both in politics and also in the administration. There are large number of Meenas in All India Services.
Meanwhile, interestingly, both Pilot and Gehlot today announced their decision to contest the assembly elections scheduled on December 7. The surprise move has added to the suspense about the Congress party’s presumptive chief minister given that both Gehlot and Pilot are strong contenders for the top post in Rajasthan.
The Congress is banking on the anti-incumbency against chief minister Vasundhara Raje to wrest power from the BJP this time. While chief minister Vasundhara Raje will lead the BJP in the upcoming polls, the Congress is unlikely to name its chief ministerial face in view of the apprehensions that the move could backfire given that both Gehlot and Pilot are claimants to the post.
“With the instructions of Congress president Rahul Gandhi and on Gehlotji request, I have decided to contest the assembly elections,” Pilot told reporters. “We all will together ensure a massive victory for the Congress in the upcoming polls,” he said.
While 67-year-old Gehlot, a two-time chief minister of Rajasthan, is expected to seek re-nomination from Sardarpura seat in Jodhpur, a decision on Pilot’s constituency will be taken soon.