Ending all the speculations over his candidature, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot today declared that he would not be running for the post of the party president.
Taking the moral responsibility of what transpired before the scheduled Congress Legislature Party meeting in Rajasthan, Gehlot said, “In the last 50 years, I have worked as a loyal Congress soldier from the time of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Narasimha Rao and Sonia ji, be it becoming a central minister or state unit chief, general secretary or CM for the third time, I cannot forget that. The events that happened (on Sunday) has shaken all of us. Only I know how hurt I am because a message went that I want to remain CM.”
He also added that the decision of whether he would continue as the CM of the state would be taken by Sonia Gandhi. The Rajasthan CM took the decision after meeting Gandhi at her 10 Janpath residence.
Tendering his apology at Gandhi, the three-time CM said, “I have apologised to Sonia ji because a simple resolution, which is our tradition and which we always pass, a situation emerged that it could not be passed. I, as a CLP leader, whatever the reasons, could not get the resolution passed.”
End of the Speculations: Gehlot choosing CM over Party Top Post?
For the last 24 hours several times Gehlot’s plans to come to Delhi were changed. Primarily though he was scheduled to take a flight around 5.30 pm., he got boarded around 9 30 pm. reaching the capital in the midnight.
The visit of Gehlot was planned in the backdrop of the notice served to three of his loyalist MLAs by the party high command for showing ‘grave indiscipline’ prior to the scheduled meeting of the CLP.
Before Gehlot left for Delhi, he also met a few MLAs at his residence and asked them to go back to their constituencies and focus on the work they were assigned to. The speculations were however rife that the senior leader would at least file the nomination considering the high command didn’t send any notice to him knowing it fully well that without his blessings such huge orderly consolidations of MLAs were not possible.
Gehlot earlier showed his mobilizing strength during 2020 when his deputy Sachin Pilot allegedly tried to topple the Government with the help of BJP.
On Sunday, 82 MLAs, known to be Gehlot-loyalist skipped the meeting of CLP where party high functionaries like Mallikarjun Kharge and Ajay Maken were present. Instead, they went to minister Dhariwal’s place and took a resolution to submit resignation to the Assembly speaker C P Joshi against the probable elevation of Sachin Pilot as the Chief Minister. They also placed three conditions for choosing the successor of Gehlot, in case, he wins the presidential election of the party.
However, while all the speculations have ended, the political observers think that Gehlot chose Chief Ministership over the party president post, just to avoid Pilot taking over the state he has been ruling for almost 15 years. The comfortability that he enjoys in his home turf, political analysts say, is uncompromisable.
Who are Left in the Fight?
Gehlot’s exit from the race whereas can be considered a big event, there is a big shot entry to the fight. One of the most senior leaders of the party Digvijay Singh yesterday declared his intent to join the fray.
The former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh has already reached Delhi and collected his nomination form. According to sources, he is about to file his candidature tomorrow, the same day Kerala MP and his closest contender Shashi Tharoor would submit his papers. It is learnt that more than 10 MLAs from Madhya Pradesh Congress Legislature Party will propose Singh’s name.
Meanwhile, Singh also met Tharoor before leaving for Delhi and said that theirs is "not a battle between rivals but a friendly contest.” Referring to the visit of Singh, Tharoor tweeted, “Received a visit from Digvijaya Singh this afternoon. I welcome his candidacy for the Presidency of our Party. 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!”
The change in the tone of the contest is really significant as Gehlot-Tharoor fight from the beginning signalled mudslinging. The political analysists, who are privy to the development told that the rebellion in the Rajasthan Congress has changed the situation and it will be now more a friendly contest than the earlier speculated ones.
Tomorrow is the last day of filing the nomination. After the scrutiny, the final names of the candidates will be declared on October 8 and the election will be held on October 17.