With Congress leader Rahul Gandhi insisting on implementing the 'one man-one post' principle in the party, several ministers in the Rajasthan government have advocated for Ashok Gehlot to be retained as both the chief minister and the party's national president.
Some of them have also endorsed Sachin Pilot as chief minister. However, they added that whatever decision the party high command takes in this regard, they will accept it. Gehlot has announced to contest election for the post of Congress President scheduled next month.
After Gehlot said that he will quit the chief minister post if he becomes the party president, various leaders have started expressing their views for the change of guard. Soldiers Welfare Minister Rajendra Singh Gudha has described Pilot as the "best face" of the Congress in Rajasthan.
When asked about the speculation regarding the change of chief minister in the state, Disaster Management and Relief Minister Govind Ram Meghwal told reporters here, "Since elections are to be held in the state in a year, then if the high command gives him (Gehlot) both the posts (Congress President and chief minister) it will be more pleasant for us."
Along with this, he also said, "I believe that both the posts will continue together. Even after that, whatever the party leadership decides, we are with it." Food and Civil Supplies Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas said that there is no need for change in leadership in the state.
"We will meet Sonia Gandhi ji and Rahul Gandhi ji to request that Rajasthan doesn't want leadership change. We will put our views. We will have to take works of Ashok Gehlot among people in the elections so there is no need for change in leadership. We have to defeat the BJP and if election is fought under his (Gehlot) leadership then it will benefit the party," Khachariyawas said.
Khachariyawas was once a loyalist of former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot when party was voted to power in last assembly polls.According to party sources, Pilot is the main contender in the race for the post of chief minister, although the name of Assembly Speaker Dr CP Joshi is also among the popular faces.
Former state Congress president Joshi was in the race for the post of chief minister in 2008 but then he lost the assembly elections by one vote. Meanwhile, many organisations including the Jat Mahasabha have started raising the demand to make a Jat leader the chief minister.
President of Jat Mahasabha, Raja Ram Meel demanded that a Jat leader be made the Chief Minister as Gehlot has announced to quit the CM's post. When asked about the upcoming chief minister of the state, Health Minister Parsadi Lal Meena said, “The name of the Chief Minister is decided by the party high command. Whatever will be decided by Sonia Gandhi will be accepted by all.
He said, "I was with Gehlot ji from the very beginning in politics, I am a minister for the third time. The high command has always made (Ashok) Gehlot ji and I am with whomever the high command will make the CM."
Chief Minister's advisor and senior MLA Babulal Nagar told reporters, "This (Congress) government should last for a full five years and for the next government in Rajasthan to be formed by Congress, it is necessary that the 2023 assembly elections should be under Gehlot's leadership."
Assembly elections are due in the state at the end of next year. He said that the people of Rajasthan want Gehlot to present the fifth budget as the Chief Minister.
Another advisor to the chief minister and independent MLA Sanyam Lodha, while sharing his interview to a newspaper, tweeted, "Political decisions cannot be made on the basis of rules. A mixture of the need of the hour, opinion, expectation, can lay the path of success of the decision."
In this interview, Lodha said that it is his personal opinion that Gehlot retains the Chief Minister's post. State Technical Education Minister Subhash Garg, while advocating for Gehlot's retention in both the posts, replied to Lodha's tweet and wrote, "Exactly written. I note that Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was the National President of the Congress from 1960 to 1963 and was also the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh from March 20, 1962 to February 20, 1964."
Minister of State for Rural Development Rajendra Singh Gudha has called for Pilot to be made the chief minister and called him the 'best face'. "There is no other best face than Sachin Pilot in Congress," Gudha said.
He said that according to him, Pilot is sure to become the chief minister. Gudha said, "Whatever the high command will decide, it will be final but when it comes to my opinion, there is no better leader in Rajasthan than Pilot after Gehlot."Meanwhile, there is a possibility that Gehlot will file nomination for the post of party president in the next week.
However, no formal announcement has been made. As per the schedule for the election of Congress President, the process of filing nomination papers will be from September 24 to 30.
Jaipur has become the center of political excitement after Gehlot formally announced that he will contest the election for the post of Congress President. Gehlot and former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot returned to Jaipur on Friday.
Since then, many ministers and MLAs have continued to meet him. On Saturday also, many ministers and MLAs reached the bungalows of these leaders in Civil Lines to meet them. Assembly elections are due in the state at the end of next year.
(With PTI Inputs)