Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his Chhattisgarh counterpart Bhupesh Baghel have been appointed as senior observers for the upcoming Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh respectively, the Congress said on Tuesday.
Chhattisgarh Health Minister T.S. Singh Deo and former Lok Sabha member Milind Deora have been appointed observers for the Gujarat polls while former Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and Punjab Leader of the Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa would be observers for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly election, a statement issued by general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal said.
On Tuesday, former chief of the BJP in Himachal Pradesh Khimi Ram joined the Congress in the presence of Rajeev Shukla, who is in charge of the State for the party.
Both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh are scheduled to go to polls later this year and the Congress is taking early steps in terms of election preparation after its disastrous performance in the last round of Assembly elections in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Goa.
The choice of Mr. Gehlot is interesting as he was credited for the Congress’ giving a tough fight to the BJP in the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections in which the party restricted the BJP to 99 MLAs and on its own won 77 seats.
However, with reports of former party chief Rahul Gandhi going abroad again, especially in the middle of the party’s Goa crisis, questions are being raised about seriousness of the leadership. Though the party has not commented officially, Mr. Gandhi is expected back on Sunday, just in time for the Presidential elections and the Monsoon session of Parliament.
The former Congress chief, however, will not be present for the party’s parliamentary strategy meeting on Thursday ahead of the Monsoon session.