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Ashok Gehlot sworn in as Rajasthan Chief Minister

December 13, 2008 10:43 IST

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Ashok Gehlot, who spearheaded the Congress campaign and brought it back to power in the assembly elections in Rajasthan, was on Saturday sworn in as chief minister for a second term in office.

Gehlot, 57, who was the chief minister between 1998 and 2003, was sworn in at a public ceremony in front of a large number of Congressmen by Governor S K Singh. He was the only one to take oath today.

Gehlot, who brings vast political and administrative experience to the job, also as a former Union Minister and grassroots worker, beat rival claims in the party with his clean image and on the basis of the seasoned campaign in the elections.

His election on Thursday as the Congress legislative party leader was preceded by intense jockeying for power by rival faction chiefs.

C P Joshi, the party's state unit president who lost by one vote in Nathdwara constituency, was also in the race apart from senior leaders like Union Minister Sis Ram Ola and Parasram Maderna, both Jats.

There were also ugly scenes of clashes between supporters of Gehlot and Ola in front of the guest house where the central observers, including Digvijay Singh, were staying.

Gehlot's unanimous election came at the end of a five-hour long process in which the observers held consultations individually with the newly elected Members of Legislative Assembly. The observers later got in touch with Congress president Sonia Gandhi [Images], who cleared his name.

There have been reports that a deputy chief minister from the Jat community could be appointed to placate their feelings.

Out of power since 2003 in the state, the party had made Gehlot the General Secretary at the All India Congress Committee and gave him charge of Delhi [Images], where there was serious dissension against Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit.

Gehlot, who belongs to the backward 'mali' (gardener) community, is a hard-core organisation man. Between 1974 and 1979, he was President of the Rajasthan unit of National Student's Union of India and rose steadily as President of Jodhpur [Images] Congress Committee and then General Secretary of the Pradesh Congress Commitee.  He became the PCC President thrice in 1985, 1994 and 1997.

In 1980, he was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time from Jodhpur and re-elected four more times. He became the Union Deputy Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation in the Indira Gandhi [Images] government in 1982. After the 1984 elections, he became the Minister of State for Civil Aviation when Rajiv Gandhi [Images] was prime minister.

Gehlot held independent charge of the Textiles Ministry in the P V Narasimha Rao government which came to power in 1991. He has been a member of various Parliamentary committees including that of Public Accounts Committee.

In the recent assembly elections, he won from Sardarpura constituency.

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