Amid the ongoing leadership battle in Rajasthan, Congress on Monday said Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot have agreed to fight the upcoming assembly elections unitedly and have left all issues to be resolved by the party high command.
Top Congress leadership led by party chief Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi held marathon discussions with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Pilot joined them later in the evening.
The Congress' in-charge of state affairs Sukhjinder Randhawa was also present at the meeting.
This was the first time after a long gap that the Rajasthan chief minister and his former deputy met face-to-face in the presence of top party leadership.
Kharge and Gandhi are holding parleys with leaders of poll-bound states to evolve the party's strategy for the assembly elections and corner the BJP. The party leadership is also working hard to resolve the infighting in the Rajasthan unit ahead of assembly polls and set at rest the differences between the two leaders.
The Congress top brass held discussions with top party leaders from Madhya Pradesh in the morning, after which Gandhi said the party would win 150 seats in the state.
What did the party say?
The party sought to project that all was fine in its Rajasthan unit with sources claiming that the party has worked out a formula for both the state leaders to work together and fight the assembly elections unitedly.
Addressing reporters after the meeting at Kharge's 10, Rajaji Marg, residence, party general secretary K C Venugopal said both the leaders held lengthy discussions with Kharge and Gandhi about the upcoming Rajasthan election.
"We have decided to fight the election unitedly. Both are in agreement that the Congress party has to work together and definitely we will win the election in Rajasthan," he said, flanked by Gehlot and Pilot.
"It is very clear that Rajasthan is going to be a strong state for the Congress party. We are going to win. Therefore, both Gehlot ji and Sachin ji have decided to go together. The Congress party will fight elections unitedly," Venugopal said.
"Both the leaders Ashok ji and Sachin ji agreed to the proposal on these things," he also said.
Asked what proposal he was talking out, Venugopal said, "Both have left it to the (party) high command. The high command will take the decision and both have agreed."
On what formula has been decided, he said, "We decided that both the leaders have agreed to go together and it will be a joint fight against the BJP. We will win the state.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh later tweeted, "The Congress party is well on its way to repeating its Karnataka success in Rajasthan as well."
Later in a tweet, Venugopal said, "Our team in Rajasthan will unitedly fight the 2023 elections and break the decades-long tradition of alternating governments by registering a thumping victory!"
The Pilot-Gehlot feud
Pilot has been attacking the Gehlot government over the issue of inaction on alleged corruption during the previous BJP government led by Vasundhara Raje and has been vocal against his own party's chief minister.
The meeting comes close on the heels of Pilot's "ultimatum" that if three demands he made from the state government were not met by the end of this month, he would launch a state-wide agitation.
One of Pilot's demands was initiating a high-level inquiry into the alleged scams during the Vasundhara Raje government.
Speaking to reporters earlier, Gehlot said there is no such tradition in the party to offer posts to any leader in order to pacify him.
"As far as I know, there is no such tradition in the Congress where any leader demands something and the party high command offers to give that position. We have not heard of such a formula ever," he said when asked about reports of a formula being worked out to rope in Pilot.
Rubbishing such reports, he said, "Never has such a thing happened in the Congress so far and neither will it happen in the future. The Congress party and the high command are very strong and no leader or worker has the courage to demand any position. It does not happen like that."
Gehlot and Pilot have been engaged in a power tussle since the Congress formed government in the state in 2018. In 2020, Pilot led a failed revolt against the Gehlot government after which he was removed from the posts of the party's state unit president and deputy chief minister.
Pilot had last month defied a warning from the party and went ahead with a day-long fast targeting Gehlot over his "inaction" on alleged corruption during the previous Raje government.
(With PTI Inputs)