New Delhi: Both Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot will contest the December 7 Rajasthan election, it was revealed in a joint press conference by the two Congress leaders amid reports of a widening rift in the party.
“Both, I and Sachin Pilot will fight the Rajasthan assembly elections,” Ashok Gehlot, a former chief minister, told reporters in Delhi, Sachin Pilot by his side.
Sachin Pilot added: “On Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s instruction and on Gehlotji‘s request, I have decided to contest the assembly elections.”
Who among the two would contest the election has been the subject of much speculation in the run-up to the polls. Both are seen as the main candidates for chief minister in the Congress, which hopes to win back the BJP-ruled state riding on what it sees as anti-incumbency.
The party was seen to be reluctant to field both, to avoid an inevitable tussle for the top post if it does win.
A section in the party believed that both leaders should stay out of the contest and focus on campaigning across the state as they are seen as crowd-pullers.
Another section felt both should contest – Ashok Gehlot from his seat Sardarpura and Sachin Pilot from a seat in Ajmer – his old parliamentary constituency – or Dausa, from where his father was an MP.
This morning, in a significant boost for the Congress, the BJP parliamentarian from Dausa, Harish Meena, quit his party and joined the Congress.
The Congress in Rajasthan is believed to be deeply divided between factions loyal to Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot.
Results in Rajasthan will be declared on December 11.