Jaipur: Congress President Rahul Gandhi refused to change half a dozen party candidates in Rajasthan for the upcoming LS election. CM Ashok Gehlot, who was in Jodhpur rushed to Delhi on Saturday when the party high command summoned him over changing the candidates whose names were announced. The ruling party, which came to power by a small margin and securing half per cent votes more than the BJP, fielded 13 new faces in the general election.
In the 2014 poll, the party was trounced by the BJP and it could not win a single seat. This time around, the Congress is in power and is expected to do great. The leaders are sceptical and don’t want to take chances. They don’t want to field all the old guns on the 25 LS seats. The candidates were largely chosen by CM Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot, who is also the president of the state party unit.
But, when the full list was announced, a large-scale resentment was witnessed over half a dozen seats, particularly the Jaipur constituency, where former mayor Jyoti Khandelwal was in fray; also, pitting a low-profile and meek candidate Pramod Sharma against Dushyant Singh, the sitting BJP MP and the son of former CM Vasundhara Raje. In addition, the candidatures in four other constituencies were found to be weak.
Notably, Rajasthan Congress in-charge Avinash Pandey brought to the notice of the party high command that the party might lose six candidates, as the chosen candidates were ‘weak’. On Saturday morning, Rahul discussed the issue with Gehlot, Pilot and Pandey over the phone and ordered the party would not change the candidates. All the candidates whose names were approved by the party’s central election committee would contest, sources said.