Gehlot out of Congress presidential race, Sonia to pick Rajasthan CM
DECCAN CHRONICLE | dc correspondent
NEW DELHI: The Rajasthan Congress rebellion has hit the state Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot hard. After meeting party chief Sonia Gandhi and apologising for the Sunday rebellion, Gehlot ruled himself out of the Congress presidential race.
According to sources, Gehlot even offered to resign from the CM’s post.
On being asked whether he will remain CM he said that decision will be taken by Mrs Gandhi.
Shortly after the meeting between Mrs Gandhi and Gehlot, senior party leader K.C. Venugopal said that a decision on the matter of change in leadership in Rajasthan will be taken in a day or two.
Another Congress Legislature Party meeting is expected to take place soon in Rajasthan with central observers. This will, in a one-line resolution, authorise the Congress president to take a decision regarding the leadership change in the state.
Interestingly, Sachin Pilot, who is seen as the choice of the party high command to replace Gehlot, met Mrs Gandhi at her residence late on Thursday evening.
After meeting the Congress president, Pilot said, "I met the Congress president today. She listened to me calmly. We held a detailed discussion on whatever happened in Jaipur. I told her my sentiments, my feedback. All of us want to win the 2023 polls (in Rajasthan) by working hard. We'll have to work together."
On the question of leadership change in Rajasthan he said, "Whatever decision has to be made in the context of Rajasthan, will be taken by her (Mrs Gandhi). I am confident that in the next 12-13 months we will once again make a Congress government through our hard work." He is expecting a decision soon by the party high command about the goings on in the state Congress.
After meeting Mrs Gandhi, Gehlot said that the incident that happened on September 25 "shook all of us".
He said, "A message went across the country that I wanted to remain as chief minister and that is why (all that) happened. I have apologised to Sonia Ji."
Gehlot further added, "One simple resolution… one-line resolution… it is our tradition to pass that one-line resolution (authorising the Congress president) when a decision is to be made on a CM. Unfortunately, that resolution could not be passed. As CM and CLP leader it was my moral responsibility."
Gehlot was seen to be the Gandhis' first choice for Congress president, until the rebellion by the Rajasthan Congress MLAs loyal to him damaged his chances. The MLAs said they would not accept Pilot.
The Congress wanted Gehlot to step down as Rajasthan CM before running for the Congress president's post, while Gehlot wanted to play a double role, one in Rajasthan and one in Delhi. However, Rahul Gandhi dashed Mr Gehlot’s hopes when he reminded everybody about the Udaipur declaration of one man, one post.
During the day, Gehlot met with Mukul Wasnik and A.K. Antony. Sources say that Wasnik may also be in the running for the post of Congress president. He has held various positions in the party organisation. His name was also mentioned in 2019, when Gandhi had resigned. Wasnik is one of the letter writers to the party demanding sweeping changes in its functioning.
Meanwhile, G-23 leaders, including Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Manish Tewari and Prithviraj Chauhan met at Anand Sharma’s house on Thursday evening to chart out their plan in the upcoming Congress president elections. The nominations for the post of Congress president will close on Friday. So far, senior leaders Digvijaya Singh and Shashi Tharoor have declared their intention to run for office and have collected the nomination papers. In all likelihood, it is going to be a Singh vs Tharoor contest unless a wild card entry does not enter into the race by Friday evening.
Earlier on Thursday, Singh after collecting nomination papers for the polls met Tharoor, who said they agreed that theirs is "not a battle between rivals but a friendly contest" among colleagues.
"Received a visit from Digvijaya Singh this afternoon. I welcome his candidacy for the Presidency of our Party," Tharoor tweeted.
"We both agreed that ours is not a battle between rivals but a friendly contest among colleagues. All we both want is that whoever prevails, @incIndia will win!" he said.
Responding to Tharoor's tweets, Singh said, "I agree @ShashiTharoor we are fighting the communal forces in India. Both believe in the Gandhian Nehruvian Ideology and shall fight them relentlessly, come what may. Best wishes."
Tharoor has already declared that he will file his nomination for the post of Congress president on Friday, the last day of the nomination process.
Polling for the post will take place on October 17 while the result will be announced on October 19.