Jodhpur, November 19
Despite being a three-time Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot does not own a house. Though there’s a small double-storey house in a congested lane in the bustling Sardarpura locality in Jodhpur, where Gehlot stays whenever he comes here, it is owned by his elder sister Vimla Devi, whom he treats like his mother.
“He came to stay in this house in 1983 after he left his father’s place,” says Gehlot’s nephew Ranvir Singh, who owns a tractor spare parts shop situated just a couple of kilometres away from the house.
Ranvir Singh, an elderly gentleman in his 60s, is Gehlot’s sister Vimla Devi’s son. “Though he moved out after entering politics and stayed at various other places, he comes here to stay with us whenever he visits Sardarpura,” Ranvir adds.
The house, where he was born, is located just behind 93-year-old Vimla Devi’s home. However, it belongs to his late father and remains locked. Lachhman Singh Gehlot, CM’s father, was a magician, from whom he learnt magic tricks (though he didn’t follow his father’s profession, he makes deft use of his political acumen, thus earning the sobriquet of ‘Jadugar’), says his nephew.
Sardarpura, which has been Gehlot’s constituency since 1998 and from where he is contesting as an MLA for the sixth consecutive time, has an emotional connect with him.
Due to his packed campaign schedule, Gehlot has told his constituents in Sardarpura that it is their responsibility to keep the seat intact for him, as he has to look after the campaigning in the entire state.
The Maha Mandir lane, where his sister’s house is located, is known as “CM Gali”, says a grocery shop owner Gopal Sancheti, who has a shop right opposite the temple.
Nathmal Khatri, Gehlot’s childhood friend and a retired teacher, says in the forthcoming Assembly elections on November 25, the school where they both studied as children, is the polling centre.
“I will go with him to cast the vote,” says Khatri, whom the CM refers to as Natthu.
Though a Rajput leader Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who is the Union Jal Shakti Minister, has been MP from Jodhpur since 2014, it is the Mali community, to which Gehlot belongs, that has been a dominant factor in the Assembly polls here.
Gehlot’s win is a foregone conclusion, say all voters unanimously in Sardarpura.
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