No decision on Rajasthan CM, Congress stakes claim to form government

The newly elected Congress Legislature Party fails to reach consensus

December 12, 2018 05:10 pm | Updated December 13, 2018 12:11 am IST - JAIPUR

Congress leaders Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot at the legislature meeting in Jaipur, on Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Congress leaders Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot at the legislature meeting in Jaipur, on Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The suspense over the Chief Minister's face in Rajasthan will continue for one more day, as the newly elected Congress Legislature Party (CLP) failed to reach a consensus after adopting a one-line resolution in its first meeting convened here on Wednesday. Congress president Rahul Gandhi is likely to take a decision in the matter on Thursday.

A delegation of senior Congress leaders drove to Raj Bhawan late on Wednesday evening and staked claim before the Governor, Kalyan Singh, to form the government in the State. AICC general secretary in charge of Rajasthan, Avinash Pande, told reporters that a list of the party's elected legislators as well as others supporting the Congress was handed over to the Governor.

“Some independent MLAs have given us the support in writing... We have absolute majority in the Assembly,” Mr. Pande said. He said the next step for the government's formation would be taken after getting “guidance” from Mr. Gandhi, to whom the AICC observer would submit his report.

The Congress has won 99 of the 199 Assembly seats, for which the polls were held on December 7, and has attained majority with the support of its ally Rashtriya Lok Dal. The front-runners for the post of Chief Minister are senior leader Ashok Gehlot and Pradesh Congress president Sachin Pilot, while former Union Minister C.P. Joshi is also stated to be in the reckoning.

In a one-line resolution adopted at the CLP meeting, the legislators authorised Mr. Gandhi to take a decision on the Chief Minister's appointment. The atmosphere outside the Pradesh Congress Committee headquarters here was tense, as the supporters of Mr. Gehlot and Mr. Pilot raised loud slogans to outdo each other. The police force was deployed to manage the crowd.

Mr. Pande and AICC observer K.C. Venugopal were present at the series of meetings which remained inconclusive. Mr. Venugopal later sought the opinion of each legislator separately, amid reports that the individual opinions would also be referred to Mr. Gandhi as the feedback.

Pradesh Congress spokesperson Satyendra Raghav said the name of the CLP leader, who would also be the Chief Minister, would be conveyed to the Governor when the party receives the invitation from Raj Bhawan to form the government. “The Chief Minister's name will be announced in Delhi tomorrow,” he said.

A six-member delegation of Congress leaders, which did not include Mr. Gehlot and Mr. Pilot, left for Delhi late in the night.

The Congress has regained its lost ground in the State in a way by defeating the incumbent BJP. In its triumph in the desert land, the grand old party has retained the trend of the two parties alternately coming to power.

After a high-voltage campaign, the State had recorded 74.21% polling on December 7. Most of the exit polls predicted a clear majority for the Congress over the BJP, but the seats won by the party on Tuesday were far below the projected numbers. A total of 2,274 candidates contested the polls in 199 of the 200 Assembly seats, as the election Alwar's Ramgarh constituency was postponed.

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