Cong panel asks Sonia to pull Gehlot out of party presidential race

Congress’s highest decision-making body on Monday requested Sonia Gandhi to withdraw Ashok Gehlot from the race for the party’s presidential post even as internal bickering in Rajasthan is halting the smooth transition in the state.

According to ANI, some members of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) are annoyed with Gehlot over the drama playing out in his state. Several legislators loyal to him have reportedly “halted what the Congress hoped would be a smooth transition of power”.

The miffed CWC members have lodged a complaint against Gehlot. They are believed to have told Sonia Gandhi “It would not be good to lay faith in him and give him responsibility for the party… top leadership should reconsider his candidature”, according to ANI. Deputy CM Sachin Pilot is likely to take over Gehlot.

More than 90 Congress MLAs, reportedly loyal to (presumed) outgoing chief minister Ashok Gehlot, snubbed an outreach by party observers Ajay Maken and Mallikarjun Kharge. They said they would resign – potentially bringing down their party’s government – if they were not allowed to pick a chief minister of their choice; neither Pilot, who led an unsuccessful revolt against Gehlot two years ago, nor his supporters were acceptable choices, the MLAs declared, reported the Hindustan Times.

The MLAs gathered at the home of state minister Shanti Dhariwal – who is believed to have chief ministerial ambitions himself – and met Speaker CP Joshi late last night.

Pilot and MLAs loyal to him attended Saturday’s legislature party meeting – scheduled by Gehlot – but lawmakers in the chief minister’s camp stayed away. It raised questions over his ability to control them. Gehlot had previously expressed reluctance in surrendering his position as chief minister even if he (as is expected) wins the presidential race, it added.

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi indicated last week that he expected the party to honour the “one person, one post” rule which was adopted during the Udaipur conclave. That comment was seen as a rebuke to Gehlot, who subsequently indicated his willingness to abide by the party’s rules.

Meanwhile, Shashi Tharoor – the party’s Lok Sabha MP from Kerala and a member of the G-23 group of internal critics of the Gandhis – said he will file his nomination on September 30.


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