Ashok Gehlot. (File Photo: IANS). Image Source: IANS News

Jaipur, Sep 23 : The abrogation of Article 370 has instilled fear in the Rajasthan Congress and the party is reconsidering its promise made a few months back of organising direct civic unit and mayoral elections in the state.

Congress sources here confirmed on Monday that Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has directed state Minister Shanti Dhariwal to get a feedback survey done to know whether indirect polls can bring any benefits for the party in a tough situation. Party workers have voiced concern about losing elections with the voters leaning towards the BJP after the scrapping of Article 370. The concerns were raised during a recently held meeting of party workers at the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) office.

The meeting was attended by senior leaders including state in-charge Avinash Pandey, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and PCC President Sachin Pilot. At the meeting, party workers requested that the elections be conducted via indirect means.

Following the strong appeal made by party leaders, the Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot directed Minister Dhariwal to prepare a feedback report, to enable a decision on the matter.

The Congress in its manifesto had promised that if the party formed the government, then there would be no criteria of minimal qualifications for the civic and mayoral elections and these would be conducted via direct polling.

The last Lok Sabha elections scripted a sad story for the party where it failed to win a single parliamentary seat out of 25 seats in the state.

State Minister Pratap Singh Khachriyawas has, however, refused any such fear factor emerging in the party.

"Article 370's abrogation can never come in as a major factor in civic unit elections although state BJP is trying to garner benefits out of it.

"Demand has come from party workers for indirect elections, though no decision has been made, so far. While Jaipur workers want direct elections, the others in rural Rajasthan want to go for indirect polls and hence we are discussing this matter within our party," he said.

The Congress, in this scenario, seems to be caught in a Catch 22 situation.

"If it (party) takes a U-turn, they will lose the trust of voters which is already crumbling, and if it doesn't take a U-turn, they will have to face defeat," said a worker, adding that Dhariwal's report in this context would answers to Congress' quandaries.

Meanwhile, Dhariwal did not respond to calls made by IANS to seek clarifications on the issue.

(Archana Sharma can be contacted at archana.s@ians.in)

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