Won't contest Cong presidential poll: Gehlot

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. Photo: PTI

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Thursday announced his decision not to contest the Congress presidential election. The decision came after he met with Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi. He also took moral moral responsibility for the political crisis in his state.

After meeting party president Sonia Gandhi, Gehlot told reporters that he has apologised to her for the developments on Sunday when MLAs supporting him defied the central observers and thwarted their move to hold a meeting of party legislators. 

Instead, they held a parallel meet to pitch for Gehlot's continuation or the guarantee that his bete noire Sachin Pilot does not replace him.

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.

Asked if he will continue as chief minister, Gehlot said Sonia Gandhi will decide on the issue.

Meanwhile, Senior Congress leader and former Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot will meet party chief Sonia Gandhi later in the day, sources said.

The party's disciplinary committee has asked three Gehlot loyalists -- Rajasthan ministers Shanti Dhariwal and Mahesh Joshi, and Dharmendra Rathore -- 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 party chief Sonia Gandhi.

(With PTI inputs) 

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