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Gehlot loyalists say will quit if Pilot is made chief minister


Published on: September 26, 2022 | Updated on: September 26, 2022

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. (PTI)

New Delhi: The Congress faced a full-blown rebellion in Rajasthan with legislators loyal to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot gathering at the residence of Speaker C.P. Joshi and threatening to resign to protest the leadership change as per latest reports at 11.30 pm on Sunday, instead of heading to the Congress Legislature Party meeting where a new Chief Minister was to be elected.

Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas said, "All the MLAs are angry and are resigning. We are going to the Speaker for that. CM Gehlot should pay heed to the suggestions of MLAs. We have 92 MLAs with us. We are Congress loyalists, we have always supported the party even in the rebellion of 2020. Our leaders still are Sonia Ji and Rahul Ji."

The development suggested a worsening power struggle between the Chief Minister and Sachin Pilot and a growing defiance of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and senior leader Rahul Gandhi. The change in Rajasthan was seen to be taking taking place under the specific instructions of the Gandhis, which the MLAs are protesting.

Gehlot wanted a double role, to be the Chief Minister and also Congress chief if the need arose. This was turned down by Rahul Gandhi who was firm on the one man one post rule.

Besides, the high command appeared to be backing Pilot as Gehlot's replacement. Pilot had met Rahul Gandhi during his padayatra earlier this week.

The Congress had scheduled a legislature party meeting at the residence of Chief Minister Gehlot on Sunday evening, with senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge and Rajasthan incharge Ajay Maken as observers. The meeting was for smooth transition of power from Gehlot to a leader to be decided by the high command. However, only Pilot and a few MLAs turned up, apart from Gehlot, Kharge and Maken.

Insiders claim that the observers and general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal spoke with Gehlot when the MLAs reached the Speaker’s house. Gehlot told him that nothing was in his hands as the MLAs were very upset. Mrs Sonia Gandhi had reportedly instructed Maken to speak to all MLAs and get a resolution done.

The Gehlot group MLAs earlier met at the residence of minister Shanti Dhariwal. It was decided that the Chief Minister should be from among the 102 MLAs who supported the government during the rebellion by Pilot and his 18 loyalists in 2020. Also the resignation letters were collected there.  Independent MLA Sanyam Lodha, who also attended the meet said, "If the decision is not taken according to the wishes of the MLAs, how will the government run? The government will fall".

In the 200-seat State assembly, The Congress has 107 MLAs, followed by the BJP with 70. If the Speaker decides to accept the resignations then the strength of the House will reduce and the majority mark will be reduced. As this paper goes to print a series of meetings are taking place in Jaipur. Some MLAs of the Gehlot camp are in a huddle, the Pilot camp is also in a huddle and the observers are trying to speak to individual MLAs.