Ashok Gehlot Apologises: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot may have to occupy the post of Congress President due to rebellion of more than 90 loyal MLAs. Though he has apologized for the situation, the Gandhi family is reportedly angry with him for “humiliating” the Congress.
Sources said Ashok Gehlot had apologized to central observer Mallikarjun Kharge, who was in Jaipur for the legislature party meeting yesterday. Calling the parallel meeting of the MLAs and their subsequent rebellion a “mistake”, Mr Gehlot had said that “this should not have happened”, sources said. He also said that he had nothing to do with it.
According to sources, Mr Kharge has expressed the opinion that despite Mr Gehlot’s claims of non-participation, such a rebellion could not have taken place without his consent.
Mr. Gehlot will file his nomination papers for the Congress President’s election tomorrow, October 17. Just as the Rajasthan crisis was at its peak, another potential candidate Kamal Nath reached Delhi and is meeting Sonia Gandhi. Sources say that he can mediate in the Rajasthan crisis.
Yesterday, MLAs who supported Mr Gehlot threatened mass resignation, making it clear that if he is elected Congress president, they will not accept his bitter rival Sachin Pilot as the chief minister of Rajasthan. He did not attend a party meeting yesterday, and refused to speak to Ajay Maken and Mallikarjun Kharge, who had asked him to meet face-to-face.
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.”
Mr Maken termed the display 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. Some in the party believe that the leaders underestimated Gehlot’s influence and handled the transformation of Rajasthan 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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