'I would have been a magician if I had not entered politics', Ashok Gehlot once said. But he led Congress to a magical victory in Rajasthan in a nail-biting battle dethroning the Vasundhara Raje government. From taking the responsibility of reviving Congress in the state to becoming three-time Chief Minister, Gehlot had seen many ups and downs.
Born in 1951 in Jodhpur, Gehlot cut his teeth in politics as a student leader and headed the Rajasthan unit of the National Students Union of India (NSUI), the Congress student wing. Elected five times to the Lok Sabha from Jodhpur, he steadily acquired political stature under late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He was a Minister under Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and PV Narasimha Rao.
Known for his proximity to both Congress President Rahul Gandhi and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Gehlot has lately been the party's "go-to" man in important matters.
Gehlot was given the charge of Gujarat just months ahead of the 2017 Assembly elections in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state where the Congress did not win but nonetheless gave a stiff fight to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Congress veteran's political acumen was again put on display during the Karnataka Assembly polls in May where he along with Ghulam Nabi Azad was instrumental in forging a post-poll alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular) to form the government.
Gehlot partnered Pilot in reviving the Congress fortunes in Rajasthan and bring it back to power.Extensively campaigning across the state for the Assembly polls, Gehlot focused on reaching out to the rural masses, particularly farmers, which yielded desired results. Congress emerged as the single largest party winning 99 of the 199 seats.