Veteran Congress leader Ashok Gehlot, who will take over as the Rajasthan Chief Minister for the third time, is considered an astute politician and a hard core organisation man, who has played an instrumental role in bringing his party back to power in the thick of challenges posed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. In his new stint, he faces the task of strengthening the Congress before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.Along with the Pradesh Congress president Sachin Pilot, who was named the Deputy Chief Minister on Friday, Mr. Gehlot is credited for taking the Congress tally from 21 in 2013 to 100, with its allies, in the recently concluded Assembly election. The Congress won 15 out of 19 seats in western Rajasthan’s Jodhpur, Barmer and Jaisalmer, where Mr. Gehlot was given a free hand to select candidates.Mr. Gehlot, 67, elected to the Assembly from Jodhpur’s Sardarpura again, has served as a Member of Parliament, Union Minister, Chief Minister, National Students’ Union of India president, Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president and All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in his four-decade-long political career. He was elected an MP from Jodhpur for the first time in 1980 at the young age of 29 years.Known for his simple lifestyle, belief in Gandhian philosophy and mass contact, Mr. Gehlot successfully tackled several crisis situations during his two previous tenures as the CM. In 2010, he brought back agitating Gujjars from the railway tracks with sympathetic remarks on not letting them shiver in the cold. In 2011, he astutely controlled the situation after the infamous Gopalgarh mosque firing incident.Coming from a family of professional magicians, Mr. Gehlot is often described as a politician who has outsmarted his opponents in a manner that the latter did not even get a hint of it. He became the Chief Minister for the first time in 1998, when he was an MP, and Jat stalwart Parasram Maderna was a strong claimant. In 2008, he successfully met the challenge from the then Union Minister Sis Ram Ola and went on to become the CM again.A year after the 2002 Gujarat violence, Mr. Gehlot shocked the Sangh Parivar by ordering the arrest of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Praveen Togadia for his campaign of distributing tridents in Ajmer. As Mr. Togadia remained behind bars for several days, Mr. Gehlot made it clear that he would not allow Rajasthan to become another Hindutva laboratory, after Gujarat.Mr. Gehlot is also remembered for his efficient drought management during his first tenure, as its job component was later adopted by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre to formulate the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme. He also took the initiative in the Right To Information legislation. His second tenure is known for the introduction of the free medicine and diagnostic tests scheme that cut down out-of-pocket expenditure of poor patients.Interestingly, it was the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who had selected Mr. Gehlot for active politics when she saw him working in one of the refugee camps in West Bengal during the 1971 East Bengali refugee crisis. Ms. Gandhi had identified his organisational skills during her visit to the camps.