Jaipur/New Delhi: The Congress has called a meeting of its legislature party in Rajasthan at Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's Jaipur residence at 7 pm on Sunday, amid the leadership change buzz following the announcement that he will contest the party president poll.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi has appointed Mallikarjun Kharge as observer along with general secretary in-charge Rajasthan Ajay Maken. They will attend the meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly, AICC general secretary organisation K C Venugopal said on Saturday.
Earlier in the day, Maken met Sonia Gandhi and discussed issues related to Rajasthan in detail.
This is the second CLP meeting within a week. The last meeting was held on September 20.
With Congress leader Rahul Gandhi insisting on implementing the 'one man-one post' principle in the party, several ministers in the Rajasthan government have advocated for Ashok Gehlot to be retained as both the chief minister and the party's national president.
Some of them have also endorsed Sachin Pilot as chief minister. However, they added that whatever decision the party high command takes in this regard, they will accept it.
Sources said the leadership of the government going forward if Gehlot is elected as party chief, is likely to be on the meeting agenda.
Gehlot became the first person to announce his candidature for the AICC presidential poll on Friday and said former president Rahul Gandhi has told him that no one from the Gandhi family should become the next party chief.
The chief minister also said that the call on his successor will be taken by Sonia Gandhi and Maken.
Gehlot's remarks came a day after Rahul Gandhi batted for the "one man, one post" concept in the party, in line with the 'Chintan Shivir' reforms.
Talking to reporters in Kochi, Gehlot had said, "I will fix the date (to submit the nomination papers) after going back (to Rajasthan), but I have decided that I will have to contest. It is a question of democracy and let us make a new start."
Later in the day, Gehlot told reporters in Shirdi that the debate on "one man, one post" is unnecessary and that he would like to serve the people of his state all his life.
He also said his statements on wanting to serve the people of Rajasthan are being interpreted in different ways.
Interestingly, Congress leader Sachin Pilot on Friday met Rajasthan Assembly Speaker C P Joshi amid speculations of a change of guard in the state.
Pilot had met Joshi in his chamber in the state Assembly, where several party MLAs were also present.
According to party sources, Pilot is the main contender for the chief minister's post but Joshi's name is also doing the rounds.
Joshi is a former state Congress president and was a contender for the post in 2008 but lost the Assembly elections by one vote at that time.
After over two decades, the Congress is set to see a contest for the post of party chief with Gehlot, who has announced his candidature, expected to take on Shashi Tharoor, who had the nomination forms collected from AICC headquarters in Delhi on Saturday.
According to a notification issued by the party on Thursday, the process for filing nominations for the election will be held from September 24 to 30.
The date for scrutiny of the nomination papers is October 1, while the last date for withdrawal of nominations is October 8.
The final list of candidates will be published at 5 pm on October 8.
The polling, if needed, will be held on October 17. The counting of votes will be taken up on October 19 and the results will be declared the same day.