Congress presidential polls | Other States

After Gehlot covenes late-night meeting, Rajasthan Minister says State MLAs to reach Delhi if CM files nomination

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. File

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. File | Photo Credit: PTI

Amid reports of being the front-runner in the Congress presidential polls, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is expected to call on incumbent party chief Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday before he flies off to Kerala to join Rahul Gandhi in the Bharat Jodo Yatra.

Mr. Gehlot covened an informal meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) at 10 p.m. in Jaipur on Tuesday. Party MLAs, who were present at a dinner function to felicitate Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, were asked to stay back for the meeting.

Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Assembly Speaker C.P. Joshi during a felicitation ceremony at the State Assembly, in Jaipur, on Tuesday, September 20, 2022.

Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Assembly Speaker C.P. Joshi during a felicitation ceremony at the State Assembly, in Jaipur, on Tuesday, September 20, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

In the meeting, Mr. Gehlot told Congress MLAs that they will be asked to come to New Delhi if he decides to file his nomination for the party president election, said State Food and Civil Supplies Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas.

After the meeting, the State Cabinet Minister told reporters, “The Chief Minister said that if he files nomination for the party’s national president post, then legislators will get a message to reach New Delhi.” He said there is no anti-incumbency in the State and the Chief Minister was not away from people.

So far, the Rajasthan Chief Minister has been sending mixed signals about taking up the top party job as it could mean giving up his chief ministership.

It is well known that Mr. Gehlot is averse to handing over the chief ministerial position to his former deputy and rival, Sachin Pilot. Interestingly, the CLP meeting came in the absence of Mr. Pilot, who left for Kerala to join the Bharat Jodo Yatra on Tuesday afternoon.

Though former party chief Rahul Gandhi is unlikely to change his mind about not contesting, Mr. Gehlot is expected to give one more try to persuade him.

“The Chief Minister will first visit Kochi and urge Rahul Gandhi to contest for the party president post,” the State Cabinet Minister said. Mr. Gehlot is scheduled to go to Delhi, Kerala and Maharashtra, and has directed the legislators to ensure that the Assembly functions smoothly, Mr. Khachariyawas said.

The hectic political developments come a day after senior leader and Lok Sabha member Shashi Tharoor met Ms. Gandhi for a meeting. In the 40-minute meeting, sources claimed, Ms. Gandhi assured Mr. Tharoor that the Gandhi family would be ‘neutral’ if there is a contest.

Mr. Tharoor followed up his meeting with the party chief with another meeting on Tuesday with Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. 

‘Anybody can contest’

On Tuesday, Ms. Gandhi also met party general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal, who flew in from Allapuzha, to discuss organisational matters.

Anybody can contest the Congress president’s poll which will be fair and transparent, Mr. Venugopal told reporters outside 10, Janpath, Ms. Gandhi’s official residence, after the meeting.

However, the Congress general secretary tried to play down the meeting and said it was a “routine” one to discuss pending oragnisational matter with the party chief.

“Polls have been announced, what is the need for a discussion? On September 22 notification will come and nomination will start on September 24,” Mr. Venugopal said, adding, “Whoever wants to file a nomination, can file it. We have said it will be an open election, anybody can contest, free and fair election, definitely it will be a transparent election.”

Asked about Mr. Tharoor contesting, he said, “Not only Shashi Tharoor, anybody who wants to contest, can contest.”

However, two Lok Sabha members from Kerala, Kodikunnil Suresh and K. Muraleedharan, said their vote will go to the person who accepts the prominence of the Nehru-Gandhi family.

“Anyway, we will cast our votes only for those who recognise the prominence of the Nehru family,” Mr. Muraleedharan said.

Meanwhile, Jharkhand ,Haryana and Goa on Tuesday joined seven other Pradesh Congress Committees (PCCs) in passing resolutions that asked Mr. Gandhi to take back the reins of the party.

“But nobody asked anyone to pass any resolution. The Congress party workers are enthusiastic. Rahul Gandhi has not asked anyone to pass any resolution. The Congress president has not asked anyone,”said party’s communication head Jairam Ramesh.

(With PTI inputs)

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2022 9:38:28 am |