New Delhi: Congress General Secretary C P Joshi, a known detractor of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, was on Wednesday made the Chairman of the state`s Election Campaign Committee by the party.
The jumbo 66-member body also has as many as seven co-chairmen including Union ministers Girija Vyas, Sachin Pilot, Jitender Singh and Lalchand Kataria.
The members include Gehlot, PCC chief Chandrabhan, AICC general secetary Mohan Prakash, Union ministers Sisram Ola, Namo Narayan Meena and Chandresh Kumari Katoch as also senior leaders Narayan Singh, B D Kalla, Prabha Thakur and AICC secretary Harish Chaudhary.
Ever since Joshi resigned from the Union Cabinet ahead of the last reshuffle of Union Council of ministers in June and subsequently made a general secretary in the AICC, there has been intense speculation about a larger role for him in the party affairs, to be precise, in Rajasthan politics.
Joshi is considered close to party Vice President Rahul Gandhi.
Last month, Rahul had a meeting with Joshi, Gehlot and the Chairperson of the party`s screening committee for Rajasthan Ajay Maken, apparently to work out a united strategy for ticket distribution in the BOP-ruled state.
There has also been speculation in the party that Joshi could contest the assembly elections from his stronghold Nathdwara in Rajsamand district creating some unease in the Gehlot camp.
In 2008 assembly elections, Joshi was defeated in Nathdwara by a margin of one vote. He had later contested the decision in court.
Since Congress lacks a prominent Brahmin face other than Vyas in Rajasthan, Joshi is considered to fit the bill at a time when vote base is believed to be shifting towards BJP.
An MP from Bhilwara, Joshi has held several portfolios at the Centre, including Railways, Road Transport and Highways, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.
The AICC released the first list of 63 candidates for Rajasthan assembly elections a couple of days ago in which Gehlot and some of his Cabinet colleagues, including Shanti Dhariwal, figure.
Congress is locked in a direct contest with BJP in Rajasthan, which it had wrested from BJP in 2008.