Congress may drop Gehlot from presidency bid after Rajasthan tumult

Ashok Gehlot in converstion with the media. Photo: Manorama News

New Delhi: The Congress High Command is considering removing Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot from the contest for the party presidency. The national leadership suspects that Gehlot was behind the moves which have now landed the party in a crisis in Rajasthan as it sought to decide on his successor.

His arch-rival in the party Sachin Pilot informed his loyalists that if Gehlot, who scuttled his chances of becoming the Chief Minister, is the presidential candidate, he would contest against him.

Party sources revealed that Sonia Gandhi is to take a final decision on Gehlot’s candidature and that attempts are being made to resolve the crisis in the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) in Rajasthan amicably.

The High Command is not convinced about Gehlot’s claim that he had no role in the parallel gathering organised by 92 party MLAs on Sunday night, boycotting the CLP meeting at Jaipur to select a successor to Gehlot if he went on to become the president of the All-India Congress Committee.

The date and venue for the CLP meeting were decided by Gehlot. His claim that he has no role in the MLAs staying away from the meeting does not hold water, revealed party sources.

Ajay Maken, party general secretary, who is in charge of the State, termed the action of the MLAs as severe "indiscipline".

Maken and Mallikarjun Kharge have handed over a detailed report on the political status in Rajasthan to the party's interim president Sonia Gandhi.

If Sonia Gandhi decides to remove Gehlot from candidature, veterans Mallikarjun Kharge, Digvijay Singh, Mukul Vasnik, Kamal Nath, Sushil Kumar Shinde, and Pavankumar Bansal may be considered. Bansal obtained two sets of nomination papers from the election committee on Monday. Friday is the last day to file nominations.

Sonia also met Priyanka Gandhi, K C Venugopal, and Kamal Nath and discussed the matter.

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