Congress president Sonia Gandhi appointed Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and general secretary Ajay Maken as observers for the meeting of the Congress Legislature Party in Rajasthan on September 25.
The party's high command including former party chief Rahul Gandhi had made it clear that the "one man one post" principle, adopted in the Udaipur Declaration, has to be followed.
“Hon’ble Congress President has appointed Sh.Mallikarjun Kharge as Observer along with Sh.Ajay Maken,Gen. Secretary AICC, Incharge of Rajasthan, to attend the meeting of Congress Legislature Party (CLP) of Rajasthan Legislative Assembly slated to be held on 25th September at 7 PM,” general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal tweeted late on Saturday evening.
Changing equations in Japiur
In just 48 hours, the political equations in Jaipur have rapidly changed with legislators and Ministers supporting Mr. Gehlot making a beeline for the camp of Mr. Pilot.
Sunday's CLP meeting is likely to decide the next leader to succeed Mr. Gehlot.
On September 23, Mr. Pilot, who joined the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Kerala for a day, returned to Jaipur, after a quick stop in Delhi to meet Ms. Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra. Since his arrival in the State capital, one of his first meetings was with Rajasthan Assembly Speaker C.P. Joshi, whose name had been doing the rounds as a possible replacement for Mr. Gehlot.
Cabinet Minister Pratap Singh Khachairawas and former MLA Raghu Sharma were present at the meeting.
One of the first to change his stance was Rural Development Minister Rajendra Gudha. “Now that Mr. Gehlot has decided to become the Congress president, we will accept whoever the Delhi leadership chooses,” he said.
On September 24 morning, Mr. Pilot met Sheo MLA Ameen Khan and Dhod MLA Parasram Mordia at his residence in Jaipur. Both these MLAs are considered to be in the Gehlot camp. The others from the Gehlot camp who reportedly met him include party MLA Girraj Malinga and independent Khushveer Jojawar.
These meetings assume importance against the backdrop of Mr. Gehlot’s insistence that his successor should be chosen after consultation with the Congress Legislature Party. Mr. Pilot has gone out of his way to reach out to all those believed to be in the Gehlot camp.
Mr. Gehlot is expected to file his nomination on September 28 and the Pilot camp is hoping that he will simultaneously tender his resignation. After a snub from Mr. Gandhi, Mr. Gehlot is unlikely to insist on remaining in the post, albeit Mr. Pilot’s supporters are not going all out with celebrations. “Till it is not done, we can’t assume it is done. We will wait for final announcement before beginning the celebrations,” an MLA close to Mr. Pilot said.