Former chief minister Ashok Gehlot and Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot on November 14 declared that they both will contest the December 7 assembly election, firing up the race for the chief minister's post in the state where the party is seeking to wrest power from the BJP.
Gehlot and Pilot, however, dismissed suggestions that there was any infighting among the state leaders and asserted that they will unitedly take on the BJP.
The two leaders ended the speculation over whether they will contest the polls at a joint press conference here at the Congress headquarters, where the party announced the joining of BJP MP Harish Chandra Meena from Dausa in Rajasthan.
"We are all united in Rajasthan and the BJP is conspiring to spread false propaganda that the Congress is divided. I will contest the upcoming assembly election and Sachin Pilot and other senior leaders will also contest," Gehlot told reporters.
He was asked about the delay by the Congress in announcing candidates and reports that claimed that infighting among the top state leaders over the distribution of tickets was responsible for it. Filing of nomination papers in Rajasthan started on Monday and will continue till November 19.
Pilot also said that on party chief Rahul Gandhi's directions and Gehlot's request, he will contest the Assembly elections.
Pilot had last contested the Lok Sabha election from Ajmer in 2014, which he lost. He, however, did not contest the bye-election earlier this year.
Sources said the leadership race in Rajasthan will now intensify with both main contenders throwing their hat in the ring.
"There is no division in the party in the state and all the leaders are united in the bid to defeat the BJP with a thumping majority," Pilot said.
On the issue of chief ministerial candidate, Gehlot said since independence the Congress has never declared its chief ministerial face in Rajasthan and the party is happy to carry on this tradition.