Taking “moral responsibility” for the party’s “unprecedented loss” in the Assembly Elections, the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge of Gujarat, Raghu Sharma (64) has submitted his resignation to AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge.
In October 2021, the AICC leadership entrusted Sharma, the then Rajasthan health minister, with the responsibility of Gujarat. Shortly after in November 2021, he resigned from the ministerial position in line with the Congress’s principle of “one person, one post.”
Sharma’s appointment as the AICC in-charge of the poll-bound Gujarat was made mainly for his close relations with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who had been the AICC general secretary in charge of Gujarat earlier. The Congress leadership also appointed Gehlot as the observer for the Gujarat polls this time.
Evidently, the Congress high command’s rationale behind giving Sharma the charge of Gujarat was that he and Gehlot would work in tandem to boost the party’s prospects in the Gujarat elections.
During the Covid outbreak, the Sharma-Gehlot combine earned laurels for the state’s handling of the pandemic, especially with the “Bhilwara model,” among many other measures then taken by the Gehlot government.
The Rajasthan government earned praise for being “organised and transparent” in its approach to the Covid and for its “relentless work” in dealing with the pandemic, with Gehlot leading the state’s response and Sharma implementing it as the health minister.
Then, during the 2020 political crisis sparked by Pilot’s rebellion, Sharma stayed back with the Gehlot camp, much to the surprise of some in the Pilot faction.
In Sharma’s appointment as the AICC in-charge of Gujarat affairs, the party leadership apparently expected that Gehlot and Sharma would “replicate” their remarkable coordination and performance that they displayed while grappling with the Covid earlier.
Congress stands completely decimated in the Gujarat polls, bagging just 17 of the state’s total 182 seats with its vote share nose-diving to about 27 per cent from 40 per cent. In the 2017 polls, when Gehlot worked hard as the AICC in-charge of Gujarat, the grand old party won 77 seats against the ruling party’s 99.