Rahul Gandhi, asked to pick 3 CMs, wants to go by MLAs’ choice: Congress
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Rahul Gandhi, asked to pick 3 CMs, wants to go by MLAs’ choice: Congress

After consulting everybody, we’ll give a CM candidate and a government that truly reflects will of people of these three states, spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.

assembly elections Updated: Dec 13, 2018 08:19 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rahul Gandhi,Congress,Chief Minister
Congress president Rahul Gandhi addresses media along with other party leaders at the party headquarters in New Delhi. (Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)

Congress will choose the chief ministers in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh after taking the opinion of each of the newly elected legislators, spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said on Wednesday, although the MLAs have authorised party president Rahul Gandhi to choose the persons for the top job.

“Congress believes in the democratic process of knowing the view point of each elected legislator. After consulting everybody, we’ll give a CM candidate and a government that truly reflects will of people of these three states,” Surjewala said.

Congress had won or was the leading party in the elections in the three states, whose results were declared on Tuesday. A Congress legislature party (CLP) meeting held on wednesday in the three states authorised Rahul Gandhi to choose the chief minister.

However, Rahul has appointed observers for the states — AK Antony for Madhya Pradesh, Mallikarjun Kharge for Chhattisgarh and KC Venugopal for Rajasthan.

The observers along with general secretary in-charges have gone to their respective states and have talked to the legislators. “Once they know opinion of each legislator, despite universal resolution leaving the choice to Congress president, he wants to go by choice of legislators,” Surjewala said.

In MP and Rajasthan, the party faces a directional choice between the experience of two veterans and the dynamism of two young leaders in their forties.

Former Union minister and state Congress president Kamal Nath, 72, and the party’s chief whip in the Lok Sabha and campaign committee chief for the state, Jyotiraditya Scindia, 47, are the front-runners for the post in Madhya Pradesh. Both did not contest the assembly elections.

According to state unit media coordinator, the decision will be announced at 4 pm on Thursday at a CLP meeting in Raipur.

Congress general secretary Ashok Gehlot, 67, and state party president Sachin Pilot, 41, are in the race for the chief minister’s post in Rajasthan. Both contested the assembly elections, with Gehlot retaining Sardarpura and Pilot emerging victorious from Tonk.

In Chhattisgarh, the race is primarily between state unit chief and Patan MLA Bhupesh Baghel, party veteran TS Singh Deo, who was the leader of opposition in the former assembly, and the party’s lone Lok Sabha MP from the state, Tamradhwaj Sahu.

The Congress was one short of a clear majority in Rajasthan, winning 99 of the 199 seats for which polls were held.In Madhya Pradesh, it was two short of the 116 mark while in Chhattisgarh, it had bagged two-thirds majority with 68 seats.

“The observer started the conversation, asking about the election, [the legislator’s] political background and then asked the opinion [on who should be CM]. The process took 3-4 minutes,” said a legislator who did not want to be named.

Another source in Chhattisgarh said Rahul has personally spoken to around 20 MLAs and Kharge has met all the 68 legislators.

In MP, Nath and Scindia, along with senior leaders Digvijaya Singh, Suresh Pachauri, Vivek Tankha and Arun Yadav, met Governor Anandiben Patel to stake the party’s claim for government formation.

When asked whether he would be interested in taking up the post of the chief minister in MP, Scindia told reporters: “Of course, it will be a privilege”. He said he would abide by whatever the party decided.

Early in the day, legislators, as well as Congress rebels, started gathering at the residence of Ashok Gehlot in Jaipur calling for his selection as the chief minister.

Independent MLAs Kanti Lal and Ramkesh Meena said they are going to support the Congress party only on the condition if Gehlot becomes the chief minister.

“Gehlot is people’s leader and we are with him,” Ramkesh Meena, the Independent MLA who won from Gangapur city, said.

On the CM candidate in Chhattisgarh, Singh Deo had said the winning MLAs and the party high-command will choose the leader.

“There are many good people in the party who have done very good work. So there will be a ‘Swayamvar’ after the poll victory,” he had said.

First Published: Dec 13, 2018 00:18 IST