Rajasthan Congress is facing a new crisis amid a high voltage drama over the party’s presidential election. According to reports, more than 90 MLAs loyal to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot threatened to resign on Sunday night, as speculation arose that Deputy CM Sachin Pilot may replace him as the state administration head.
Opposing the Congress high command’s suggestion, MLAs from the Gehlot camp are not willing to accept Sachin Pilot as their new boss.
The crisis in Rajasthan Congress triggered soon after Ashok Gehlot expressed his willingness to file a nomination for the Congress’ president post. As of now, Gehlot, Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor and senior Congress leader Manish Tewari have filed their nominations for the top Congress post.
In a late-night development on Sunday, dozens of Congress MLAs met in Jaipur and expressed their disappointment over Gehlot’s decision to leave the CM post after filing the party chief nomination.
Speaking with the media, senior Rajasthan Congress leader Pratap Singh Khachariyawas said that MLAs are not happy, and are resigning as Gehlot had not consulted them over who would be appointed as the new chief minister.
Khachariyawas claimed that at least 92 MLAs were in the meeting. Reportedly, they will submit their resignations to Rajasthan Assembly Speaker CP Joshi.
How Did The Crisis Unfold?
The crisis unfolded in Jaipur on Sunday, amid reports that Gehlot’s bitter rival Pilot may replace him. Following this, dozens of Congress MLAs, including senior leader Shanti Dhariwal, arrived at Speaker Joshi’s residence and registered their protest over Pilot’s possible promotion.
The Congress leaders demanded that instead of pushing Pilot’s name for the chief minister’s post directly from central leadership, the decision should be taken during the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meeting at CM Gehlot’s house.
Meanwhile, amid the threat of the enmasse resignation, CM Gehlot spoke to senior Congress general secretary KC Venugopal over the phone and said that “nothing is in his hands”.
It seems that Gehlot himself is not willing to accept the high command’s choice of Pilot as his successor. Hours before the crisis emerged in Jaipur, Gehlot, speaking with the media in Jaisalmer, said that it has been the party’s tradition that the CLP plays an important role during elections, and for the choice of a chief minister post.
“I believe this will happen today too,” Gehlot told the media. Earlier, the leader was in a dilemma whether to contest for the party chief’s or remain as the CM, but finally decided to fight for the top party post.
Gehlot’s opponents claim that he wants a double role in the Congress but has to go with any one post as the party needs to stick with the “one man one post” rule decided during the Congress Chintan Shivir in Udaipur this year.
Amid yesterday’s drama in Rajasthan, current party chief Sonia Gandhi sent senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and Ajay Maken to Jaipur to resolve the unexpected crisis.
Following Sonia Gandhi’s direction, both senior Congress leaders arrived late night in Jaipur but failed to meet the MLAs from Gehlot camp. According to media reports, Gehlot loyalists had already resigned before their arrival to Jaipur and left for their homes citing the Navratri puja.
As per reports, Kharge and Maken will be back in Delhi today, and will submit a report to the party high command on the Jaipur crisis.
Conflict Of Interest
Speaking with the media on Monday, Maken has slammed the Congress MLAs loyal to Gehlot for revolting against their own party. According to him, the rebel MLAs refused to meet one-by-one and said that they want to come in a group to raise their concern. He further said that the MLAs want the CM’s post to be handed over to one of them, who is loyal to Gehlot.
Terming the Jaipur crisis an “indiscipline” created by Gehlot loyalists, Maken warned that strict action may be taken against those MLAs who organised the revolt against Pilot.
“It would be conflict of interest as the resolution on a new Rajasthan Chief Minister would be passed when Ashok Gehlot may already be party chief, and so, he empowers himself to decide on his own successor in Rajasthan,” said Maken while speaking to media.
The Congress high command has asked Gehlot and Pilot to reach Delhi to resolve the crisis in the presence of the party leadership. Sources say that they are both likely to visit Delhi today.
As all eyes are on Rajasthan Congress’ high voltage drama over the chief minister’s post, the BJP, the main opposition party in the state, has wasted no time in taking a dig at the grand old party. Union Minister and BJP leader Bhupendra Yadav tweeted a four years old photo of Rahul Gandhi standing in the middle of Gehlot and Pilot, with a caption in Hindi: “Kripaya pehle inhe jod le (Please join them first)”. The tweet was a reference to the Congress’ ongoing ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ campaign which is being led by Rahul Gandhi.