In one tweet, Rahul Gandhi hints at end of two-day impasse over Rajasthan CM
After two days and several rounds of discussions, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday signalled an end to the standoff between Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot for the Rajasthan chief minister’s post.Updated: Dec 14, 2018 15:17 IST
After two days and several rounds of discussions, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday signalled an end to the standoff between Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot for the Rajasthan chief minister’s post.
“The united colours of Rajasthan,” Gandhi tweeted, along with a photograph with Gehlot and Pilot.
An official announcement about Gandhi’s choice for Rajasthan chief minister will be made later in the evening but Gehlot, by most accounts, is expected to get the prized assignment. News agency ANI said Ashok Gehlot would be named as the Rajasthan’s top post.
The Congress president had summoned the two leaders to his Tughlaq Lane house in the national capital earlier in the day, his third meeting with the Rajasthan Congress leaders in two days. The Congress’ central observer for Rajasthan KC Venugopal and in-charge of party affairs in the state Avinash Pande were also present at Gandhi’s residence during the discussions.
Congress leaders had twice yesterday indicated that Gehlot, the 67-year-old war horse, had emerged as the front-runner in the race to the chief minister’s chair.
Twice on Thursday, Gandhi called Ashok Gehlot, 67, back from the airport; his last meeting with the veteran ran well past midnight. He had met Pilot, 41, just before that.
There have been reports that Sachin Pilot, 41, who was tasked to revive the Congress in Rajasthan after Vasundhara Raje’s stunning victory in 2013 state elections, was unhappy at the choice. The BJP had then netted 163 seats against the Congress’s 21. This time, the Congress raised its tally to 99 of the 199 seats that went to polls.
This morning, news agency PTI said, Jitendra Singh, a former Union minister and Rajasthan leader, met Pilot, 41, earlier in the day and then went to Gandhi.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala denied there were any differences within its Rajasthan unit. “There is no dispute or difference within the Congress units on chief minister’s post in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh,” Surjewala told reporters.
“Be it Rajasthan or Chhattisgarh, a due process of discussions is on among the leaders so that we can form a good government. Madhya Pradesh has been decided and chief minister’s issue will be decided for Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in a day or two also,” he said.
Gandhi picked nine-time MP and former Union minister Kamal Nath to head the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday over former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia after similar talks in both a recognition of his contribution to the campaign as well as a signal to corporate India.
The decision on Chhattisgarh is also expected on Friday and there are three leaders in the race: Bhupesh Baghel, TS Singhdeo, and Tamradhwaj Sahu.
Congress leaders feel once the newly-elected legislators in the state have authorised Gandhi to take a decision on the chief minister, the contenders should not challenge the high command and accept the decision.
“It is up to the Congress president to take a final call and the decision is being awaited,” Venugopal told PTI.
“The Congress president heard everyone and after wide consultations, he will take the final decision which will be acceptable to all,” Pande said according to the news agency.
There was some discomfort within the Congress after party workers blocked roads against Gehlot. Congress leaders said this was the first time such incidents have been reported in Rajasthan and that the party has taken the matter seriously.
The incidents of violence were reported in Jaipur, Dausa and other parts of the state on Thursday. They gathered outside the party office and the residences of the two state leaders holding placards, cutouts and shouting slogans. In a late night message, Gehlot and Pilot appealed for calm and urged supporters to maintain discipline.
The Congress went into elections without a chief ministerial candidate but fielded both, experienced Gehlot and the energetic Pilot, who revived the party after its 2013 rout when Ashok Gehlot lost the state to Bharatiya Janata Party’s Vasundhara Raje.