Ashok Gehlot: The ‘Jadugar’ of Indian Politics

By Arshita Biswas

Ashok  Gehlot, a staunch Gandhiite, is one of many who are deeply influenced by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. He adapted to the Gandhiite life, is a pure vegetarian and enjoys Satvik food. He has had a keen interest in politics since a very young age and he actively participated in social-political work even when he was a student. It was during the East Bengali refugees crisis in 1971 when former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi first identified his organizational skills during one of her visits to the refugee camps and then Gehlot was appointed as the first State President of the National Students’ Union of India and successfully organised Congress’s Student Wing in the state and since then there is no looking back.

Gehlot hails from a magician family. His father, Babu Laxman Singh Daksh was a very famous magician in India. He would often accompany his father to his shows all around the country, this is how he learnt quite some magic tricks. A few years back in an interview, Ashok mentioned, “I would have been a magician if I had never entered politics. I always loved social work and learning magic tricks. In future, too, I might not get a chance to become a magician, but magic is still in my soul.” Thus he is often called the ‘jadugar’ in the Congress circles.

Gehlot is currently serving as the Chief Minister of Rajasthan. He was in office from December 1998 to 2003, and then from 2008 to 2013, and again from 17 December 2018. He is one of the oldest and most experienced political leaders in India. He has been the Union Minister of Sports and Union Minister of State for Textiles. The 70-year-old Gehlot was recently admitted to the Sawai Man Singh Hospital, Jaipur, for his angioplasty, as he was detected with a block in one of the coronary arteries. Just before his CT Angio Gehlot tweeted, “Post Covid I was having health issues and since yesterday I was having severe pain in my chest. Just got my CT Angio done in SMS hospital. Angioplasty will be done. I am happy that I’m getting it done at SMS Hospital. I am fine and will be back soon. Your blessings and well wishes are with me.”

The Congress leader has been standing by the farmers throughout since the farmers started protesting against the central government. In fact, very recently, he spoke up against the BJP Government at the Centre for the contentious farm laws, saying when the right time comes, the farmers of the country won’t step back in teaching the saffron party a lesson. Thousands of farmers gathered for a “Kisan Mahapanchayat” at Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh on 5th September, where BKU leader Rakesh Tikait called Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders “rioters” and said the party should be thrashed in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls. Gehlot, referring to the panchayat poll results in six districts in Rajasthan, has made clear that there is a lot of resentment against the BJP. The ruling Congress party was ahead of the BJP in the panchayat polls in six districts of Rajasthan, securing a majority in four out of six Zila Parishad. Gehlot also mentioned that the farmers have fully understood the BJP’s motives and their “false promise” of doubling their income by 2022 and attempts to hand over agriculture to big businessmen by imposing anti-farmer agriculture laws without taking the farmers into confidence.

Not only about the farm laws but Gehlot has also clearly shown his dislike towards the opposing party in various other events. BJP National Vice President and former CM of Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje made a scathing attack on the Gehlot government after taking an aerial tour of the various flood-affected areas in Rajasthan. She accused Gehlot’s government to be sleeping when the people of Rajasthan are drowning in the flood. She said that the Prime Minister himself took a tour when cyclone Tautkae hit the Indian shores. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh also took a tour of the flood-affected areas and helped people.”Now, Rajasthan CM should also come out to lend his ears to people’s grievances,” she said.

Gehlot has been actively engaging in the developing situation in the Congress-ruled Punjab, with the resignation of Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh. He recently tweeted, “I hope Captain Amarinder Singh will not take any step which will harm the Congress party. Captain Sahib has himself said that the party kept him as Chief Minister for nine and a half years. He has served the people of Punjab by working to the best of his ability.” but it is not just Gehlot who took on Twitter, but also his OSD Lokesh Sharma. Although his tweet has lead to some major repercussions and that in return had led to Sharma’s resignation. So it looks like Punjab’s revamp in the Office has shaken up the Rajasthan Government too. But only time will tell how is this going to actually affect Gehlot’s party.

Despite the criticisms, Gehlot is remarked as a stalwart due to his way of engaging in politics and taking political decisions. This sentiment is unanimous across the Indian political spectrum.

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