Won't contest Congress chief polls, apologise to Sonia Gandhi: Ashok Gehlot

Updated on Sep 29, 2022 03:10 PM IST

Sonia Gandhi is set to meet Ashok Gehlot's bête noire and former Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot later in the day.

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot arrives at 10, Janpath, in New Delhi, to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday.(PTI)
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot arrives at 10, Janpath, in New Delhi, to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday.(PTI)
By | Written by Aniruddha Dhar, New Delhi

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Thursday said he apologised to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi for the recent political drama in the state and announced that he will not contest the Congress president's election on moral grounds. Gehlot's statement comes after his meeting with Sonia Gandhi at her residence in New Delhi amid a massive internal conflict over the Congress president election and appointment of his successor in the state.

“I had a conversation with Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi. Whatever happened two days ago shocked us. It gave a message that all of it happened as I wanted to be chief minister. I apologised to her,” Gehlot told reporters outside Sonia Gandhi's residence.

“I met Rahul Gandhi in Kochi and requested him to fight in the polls. When he didn't accept, I said I will contest but now with that incident (in Rajasthan), I have decided not to contest the elections,” Gehlot announced, adding “I won't contest these elections in this atmosphere, with moral responsibility.”

Gehlot, a three-time state chief minister, described himself as a disciplined soldier of the party and expressed his sadness over the turn of affairs in the state.

On being asked if he will remain Rajasthan CM, Gehlot said, "I won't decide that, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi will decide that."

Interestingly, Sonia Gandhi is set to meet Gehlot's bête noire and former Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot later in the day, reported news agency PTI.

Gehlot arrived in the national capital late last night for the meeting. The meetings come days after an open rebellion by Gehlot loyalists over a possible leadership change in the state, while Gehlot was set to file his nomination papers for the Congress chief polls.

The party's disciplinary committee has issued a show-cause notice to three Gehlot loyalists - Rajasthan ministers Shanti Dhariwal and Mahesh Joshi, and Dharmendra Rathore - asking them to explain within 10 days why action should not be initiated against them. This was after observers for Rajasthan, Mallikarjun Kharge and Ajay Maken, charged them with "gross indiscipline" in a report to Sonia Gandhi.

As many as 82 MLAs attended a parallel meeting at Dhariwal's residence in Jaipur on Sunday evening, laying down conditions for the party. They did not attend the official legislature party meeting convened for passing a resolution authorising the Congress chief to appoint a successor to Gehlot.

With the Rajasthan episode posing a significant challenge before the party, the Congress president has been holding discussions with senior party leaders from across the country to resolve the crisis.

Digvijaya Singh to contest Congress president poll

Meanwhile, veteran Congress leader Digvijaya Singh on Thursday said he will contest the polls for party president.

Singh told reporters outside the AICC headquarters that he was in New Delhi to collect his nomination form from the party's Central Election Authority (CEA) and that he is likely to file his nomination tomorrow.

"Today, I have come here to collect the nomination form and will possibly file it tomorrow," Singh said.

He said the decision to contest was solely his and he had not consulted with anybody else. "I represent myself...The time is between 11 and 3 (when he will file the nominations tomorrow)," Singh told the media persons.

On being asked whether his entering the race for the top Congress post will be a face-off against Gehlot besides Shashi Tharoor, Singh asked to wait and see till October 8, the last date of withdrawal of nominations.

"Wait till 8th, the date of withdrawal," the former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh said.

(With inputs from PTI. ANI)

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