Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot may have to pay the price for his shot at the post of party chief if over 90 Congress MLAs revolt in his support. The Gandhi family is reportedly angry with Ashok Gehlot flexing his MLAs and “humiliating” the Congress.
Ashok Gehlot will file his nomination papers for the Congress President election to be held tomorrow, October 17. As the Rajasthan crisis was at its peak, another potential candidate Kamal Nath reached Delhi to meet Sonia Gandhi.
Yesterday, MLAs who supported Ashok Gehlot threatened mass resignation, making it clear that if he is elected Congress president, he will not accept his bitter rival Sachin Pilot as the chief minister of Rajasthan.
The MLAs skipped a meeting yesterday, and refused to speak to Ajay Maken and Mallikarjun Kharge, who had asked them to meet face-to-face. It was a clear message from Team Gehlot that he cannot be taken lightly.
Ajay Maken and Mallikarjun Kharge went back to Delhi standing with the MLAs. Sources accused Team Gehlot of humiliating central leaders.
On the MLAs’ demand that a meeting be held on the new chief minister only after the next Congress president is elected, Mr Maken said, “It will be a conflict of interest as the resolution will be passed when Ashok Gehlot may already be the party chief. . Therefore, he empowers himself to decide on his successor in Rajasthan.”
Speaking to the media, Mr Maken termed the show of defiance as “indiscipline”. It turns out that the central leaders feel “harassed and humiliated”. Events indicate that Gandhi is losing his grip on the party.
But some in the party believe that leaders underestimated Mr. Gehlot’s influence and handled Rajasthan’s transition poorly.
Mr Gehlot was reluctant to leave Rajasthan and take up a national role, even suggesting to the Gandhi family that he could handle both and that he should not give up the chief minister’s job. But Rahul Gandhi publicly denounced his demand for dual roles and said the party would stick to the policy of “one person, one role”.
Mr Gehlot adjusted to his new role, but it was clear that he was not going to hand Rajasthan to his rival Sachin Pilot on a platter. Though he has denied any role in Sunday’s rebellion, some believe that Congress MLAs in Rajasthan would take such a big step without blessings.
Sachin Pilot, whose revolt in 2020 almost brought Mr Gehlot’s government to the brink, has 20 MLAs on his side. For the second time, he has been publicly “exposed” without adequate support compared to Mr. Gehlot.
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