Congress President Sonia Gandhi is likely to meet Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Thursday in an attempt to resolve the ongoing crisis in the State. Even as all eyes are on this anticipated meeting, sources said, that Rajya Sabha MP and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh could enter the race for Congress president. He is expected to be in Delhi on Thursday.
Mr. Singh has already sounded out the top leadership about his decision but may wait for the outcome of the Gandhi-Gehlot meeting before taking a final call, said the source cited above.
The process for filing nominations for the elections began on September 24th and in last four days, none have been filed.
Mr. Gehlot was slated to file his nomination on Wednesday and with his expected elevation, a meeting of party’s legislators was called in Jaipur to pick his successor. The party was thrown into a turmoil when a large section of MLAs boycotted the meeting saying that they will not allow the Chief Minister to be picked from those put the government at risk in July 2020.
Meanwhile, Congress’s General Secretary (Organisation) K.C. Venugopal spoke out about the ongoing events indicating that in a day or two the crisis in Rajasthan will be resolved. Speaking from, Kerala, he said, “There is no drama in Rajasthan. Everything will be clear in a day or two. The media may see this as a drama but at least you are discussing the INC president election. You cannot discuss the presidential election of any other party in this country.” The Congress leader said that the party is carrying forward the election for the presidential poll in a “democratic manner”.
“Congress is doing it in a very democratic manner, it will end in two days smoothly,” he said.
Arriving in Delhi late on Wednesday evening, Mr. Gehlot told reporters that they worked in a disciplined way and would be “able to solve the internal politics within the family”.
No action has been taken against Mr. Gehlot, but notices have been given to three of his loyalists demanding explanation for holding a parallel meeting while skipping the meeting of Congress Legislative Party.
Many in Rajasthan and old guard see this step as aggravating the crisis.
Sources, said, that Mr. Gehlot is unlikely to relent and allow the central leadership to place his bete noire Sachin Pilot as his successor.
“Ashok Gehlot is a senior Congress leader and it is his duty to raise the voice of legislators. He was not acting against the party,” Rajasthan cabinet minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas said.
Meanwhile, reports about Mr. Singh’s decision to join the fray, has met with stiff opposition from some quarters in the party.
“He has made several outrageous and dangerous comments in the past including belittling Delhi Police officer Mohan Chand Sharma’s supreme sacrifice in the Batla House encounter. All his past statements will come to haunt us,” a senior party leader said.
Congress veteran leader A.K. Antony met Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday.
With no one coming forward to file nominations, reporters asked him whether he is also in contention. “Am I fool, I know my health condition, I left national politics because of that. I am still recovering from the second bout of COVID,” Mr. Antony retorted. He refused to comment on who he will support among the several names doing the round as contenders for Congress president’s position. He added that he is optimistic about Congress future asserting that the party will emerge stronger after its internal polls and the ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra on Thursday will leave Kerala and re-enter Tamil Nadu before heading to Karnataka. It has so far covered 466 kms from Kanyakumari and on Wednesday it entered former Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s Lok Sabha constituency Wayanad. “Tomorrow morning, the yatra will leave Kerala, entering Gudalur in Tamil Nadu and then onwards to Karnataka. In Kerala alone, the yatra will have covered 440 km over seven districts with Yatris walking 20-25 kms every day and most importantly meeting, interacting and conveying the message of Bharat Jodo to lakhs of people every single day,” party’s general secretary Jairam Ramesh said in a statement.