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Ashok Gehlot, many say, is his own advisor—rarely seeking, let alone acting on, advice from anybody other than himself. In fact, he would steer the discussion to something else if somebody suggests political or administrative action, says a senior journalist who had covered Rajasthan for several years. The 67-year-old Congress veteran, a three-time chief minister of Rajasthan, owes this maverick self-reliant trait to the fact that he had no mentor during his formative years in politics—unlike rival Vasundhararaje, for instance, who had a tall mentor in the late Bhairon Singh Shekhawat. Elections: Number Game
Still, the fiercely independent Gehlot is said to have a group of six—often referred to as G6—for counsel when he needs a second opinion on important matters. The group includes journalists who have been Gehlot’s associates for over two decades. Their influence may be a subject of debate, but certainly not their proximity to the Marwar Ka Gandhi, a term used for Gehlot vis-à-vis his Jodhpur origin.
Gehlot often turns to the G6 when he has to appoint press advisers. In fact, three of those were in the Haridev Joshi University of Journalism and Mass Communication that Gehlot started in his previous term. The BJP that came to power in 2013 shut down the university, but Gehlot revived it after his party’s win in the 2018 assembly elections.
Another man he trusts is Kuldeep Ranka (in pic, right)—said to be his favourite bureaucrat and now the principal secretary in the CM’s office. Ranka is a fellow Jodhpuri. Notwithstanding these assertions, Gehlot largely remains a deeply freethinking politician. Speaking off the record, members of the G6 chortle over a question whether they advise Gehlot or not. “Who can advise the master?” one of them says, affirming that Gehlot’s political acumen is peerless. But they agree that he is a very receptive person and listens to people with great keenness.