Congress conundrum: Gehlot stays closeted with his confidantes at Jaipur; delays meeting Sonia

Express News Service

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot remained closeted with his confidantes in Jaipur on Wednesday thereby delaying his meeting with Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi by a day while Rahul Gandhi contiued with his Bharat Jodo Yatra.

Gehlot was originally scheduled to leave Jaipur at 5.30 PM on Wednesday. But his departure was delayed. “The Chief Minister is going to Delhi at 5-5.30 pm today to express the feelings of 102 MLAs, as their guardian, with the party leadership and organisation,” cabinet minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas told reporters after a meeting with the chief minister.

Besides Khachariyawas, Assembly Speaker C P Joshi, PCC president Govind Singh Dotasra, Minister Shanti Dhariwal, and Mahesh Joshi also met the chief minister.

Gehlot reached Delhi late on Wednesday late night. He is expected to meet Sonia today.Gehlot appears to be on the offensive despite the High Command reportedly bracing up to crack the whip on Gehlot loyalists’ and ministers Shanti Dhariwal and Mahesh Joshi. The two spearheaded the protest against signing the resolution authorising Sonia Gandhi to appoint a new Chief Minister after Gehlot files the nomination papers for the party presidential polls. Gehlot and his loyalists are figjting tooth and nail the high command’s move to make Sachin Pilot as Rajasthan Chief Minister if Gehlot goes on to become party president.

Gehlot is not averse to giving up chief ministership and entering the presidential race. But he does not want to hand over charge in the state to Pilot. He says he would hand over the chief ministership to anyone from the 102 MLAs who had stayed loyal to the party when Pilot had walked out, but not the latter.

As suspense over whether or not Gehlot would agree to resign from the post of chief minister to file the nomination continues, names of many Congress leaders who are likely aspirants for the post have started doing the rounds. Among them are the party’s top Dalit leaders including, leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik, former Maharashtra chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, and former Haryana president of Congress Kumari Selja.

ALSO READ| Rajasthan political crisis: Congress in a quandary even as it shows Gehlot his place

Gandhi family loyalists Ambika Soni, who is considered close to Sonia Gandhi, and former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh Digvijaya Singh, who shares a close personal equation with Rahul Gandhi, are also among the frontrunners. Party treasurer Pawan Kumar Bansal’s name is also being mentioned as a possible contender for the post after he took a nomination form from the Congress office.

On Wednesday, Sonia Gandhi consulted senior party leaders Ambika Soni and A K Antony, who was called from Kerala where he is leading a retired life, on the Rajasthan crisis. She was advised to meet Gehlot one last time to try and iron out the differences.

The two central observers – Ajay Maken and Mallikarjun Kharge – have shielded Gehlot in their report after returning from Jaipur where they were not able to meet the party MLAs loyal to the chief minister. These MLAs are opposed to the leadership’s plan to replace Gehlot with his former deputy Sachin Pilot and refused to sign a resolution authorising the party president to choose Gehlot’s successor.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot remained closeted with his confidantes in Jaipur on Wednesday thereby delaying his meeting with Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi by a day while Rahul Gandhi contiued with his Bharat Jodo Yatra.

Gehlot was originally scheduled to leave Jaipur at 5.30 PM on Wednesday. But his departure was delayed. “The Chief Minister is going to Delhi at 5-5.30 pm today to express the feelings of 102 MLAs, as their guardian, with the party leadership and organisation,” cabinet minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas told reporters after a meeting with the chief minister.

Besides Khachariyawas, Assembly Speaker C P Joshi, PCC president Govind Singh Dotasra, Minister Shanti Dhariwal, and Mahesh Joshi also met the chief minister.

Gehlot reached Delhi late on Wednesday late night. He is expected to meet Sonia today.
Gehlot appears to be on the offensive despite the High Command reportedly bracing up to crack the whip on Gehlot loyalists’ and ministers Shanti Dhariwal and Mahesh Joshi. The two spearheaded the protest against signing the resolution authorising Sonia Gandhi to appoint a new Chief Minister after Gehlot files the nomination papers for the party presidential polls. Gehlot and his loyalists are figjting tooth and nail the high command’s move to make Sachin Pilot as Rajasthan Chief Minister if Gehlot goes on to become party president.

Gehlot is not averse to giving up chief ministership and entering the presidential race. But he does not want to hand over charge in the state to Pilot. He says he would hand over the chief ministership to anyone from the 102 MLAs who had stayed loyal to the party when Pilot had walked out, but not the latter.

As suspense over whether or not Gehlot would agree to resign from the post of chief minister to file the nomination continues, names of many Congress leaders who are likely aspirants for the post have started doing the rounds. Among them are the party’s top Dalit leaders including, leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik, former Maharashtra chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, and former Haryana president of Congress Kumari Selja.

ALSO READ| Rajasthan political crisis: Congress in a quandary even as it shows Gehlot his place

Gandhi family loyalists Ambika Soni, who is considered close to Sonia Gandhi, and former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh Digvijaya Singh, who shares a close personal equation with Rahul Gandhi, are also among the frontrunners. Party treasurer Pawan Kumar Bansal’s name is also being mentioned as a possible contender for the post after he took a nomination form from the Congress office.

On Wednesday, Sonia Gandhi consulted senior party leaders Ambika Soni and A K Antony, who was called from Kerala where he is leading a retired life, on the Rajasthan crisis. She was advised to meet Gehlot one last time to try and iron out the differences.

The two central observers – Ajay Maken and Mallikarjun Kharge – have shielded Gehlot in their report after returning from Jaipur where they were not able to meet the party MLAs loyal to the chief minister. These MLAs are opposed to the leadership’s plan to replace Gehlot with his former deputy Sachin Pilot and refused to sign a resolution authorising the party president to choose Gehlot’s successor.