After Rajasthan drama, will Ashok Gehlot quit Congress president race?
A front-runner in the Congress president race, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot is likely to drop out soon, reports said on Monday. The development comes after a high-voltage political drama in Congress-ruled Rajasthan over Gehlot's rival Sachin Pilot purportedly being the top choice for CM's post. Many are now jibing the grand old party should hold a "Congress Jodo Yatra" instead of "Bharat Jodo Yatra."
Why does this story matter?
- Ahead of the party's upcoming presidential polls, the Congress had called a meeting in Jaipur on Sunday to discuss the next chief ministerial candidate—for which Sachin Pilot was seen as the top pick.
- Gehlot is a frontrunner for the party president's post, but in view of the party's "one person, one post" policy, he is reluctant to cede the CM's chair to his rival, Pilot.
'Congress leadership upset with Gehlot'
Anonymous Congress leaders told India Today that Gehlot is now out of the race for party president. This, reportedly, is because Gehlot's behavior has not gone down well with Congress leadership, which is "very upset" with him. "There will be other leaders who will file the nomination before September 30. Mukul Wasnik, Mallikarjun Kharge, Digvijaya Singh, KC Venugopal [are] in the race," they claimed.
Grand old party in crisis in Rajasthan
Senior leaders Ajay Maken and Kharge reportedly met Sonia Gandhi in Delhi on Monday evening after meeting Gehlot in Rajasthan. As per reports, Gandhi will take the final decision regarding the ongoing crisis in Rajasthan according to the brief provided by Kharge and Maken. Former Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath, another likely candidate for the party president, has also been called to Delhi.
Maken, Kharge meet Gandhi in Delhi
#RajasthanPoliticalCrisis | Mallikarjun Kharge I briefed, in detail, the Congress chief about our meetings in Rajasthan. She asked us for a written report. We'll give it to her by tonight or tomorrow: AICC Observer Ajay Maken, after meeting Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi pic.twitter.com/3SepW92C1P— ANI (@ANI) September 26, 2022
What could happen next?
While we are yet to get a confirmation on Gehlot quitting the presidential race, he's likely to do so due to a trust deficit. Gehlot was purportedly the chosen "Gandhi family" candidate to lead Congress out of its most glaring crisis. But the drama in Rajasthan—with over 90 MLAs loyal to Gehlot refusing to accept Pilot as the next CM—is seen as Gehlot's rebellion.
Rahul Gandhi or another non-Gandhi face?
With Gehlot unlikely to get party support anymore, it's possible that Rahul Gandhi may return to the helm. While several state units have passed resolutions to make Rahul the president, a larger crowd may now chant in his support. However, it is still possible for one of the other candidates in the race—Shashi Tharoor, Singh, Nath, or Wasnik—to be chosen as the "non-Gandhi" president.
A 'Pilot' with no wings?
If Gehlot continues to hold the CM post, we might see another rebellion by Pilot. He was reportedly promised the CM chair in 2018 but launched a major rebellion when he wasn't offered the same in 2020. So far, Pilot hasn't come forth to stand for Congress president amid the chaos as he feels the party will support him back in Rajasthan, NDTV reported.
What is happening in the desert state?
On Sunday night, over 90 Congress MLAs from the Gehlot camp reportedly visited Assembly Speaker CP Joshi to "offer their resignation" if Pilot becomes the CM. Senior leaders were rushed to Rajasthan to prevent another Congress-led government from collapsing. Maken told reporters the CM's loyalists wanted one of their leaders to replace Gehlot. The development has, however, fueled rage against Gehlot in Congress.