Amid tussle with Pilot, Gehlot calls MLAs’ meet


NEW DELHI: While a reluctant Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is being made to contest the Congress presidential election following a diktat from the Gandhis, he is apparently making all possible attempts to prevent arch-rival Sachin Pilot from replacing him as CM.

He is believed to have told the high command that he would like to stay on as Chief Minister for some time even if he is elected Congress president. He is expected in New Delhi on Wednesday to meet the high command. He met his MLAs in Jaipur late on Tuesday night.

If Gehlot makes it as Congress president, Pilot is being seen as his successor at Jaipur. Pilot’s moves in the last couple of days indicate that he may be a CM in waiting. His meeting with Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar is also being viewed in this light.

Pilot has once rebelled against Gehlot after the Chief Minister ordered a probe against him by the special operations group of the Rajasthan police. But Pilot was then assuaged by the high command. His loyalists were accommodated in the Cabinet.

Gehlot is keen to keep both posts, or if at best he should choose his successor. Several names other than Pilot are doing the rounds. These include C.P. Joshi, who is Speaker of the Rajasthan Assembly, while a wild card entry may be Raghu Sharma, who is now the party’s in-charge of Gujarat.

Sources say if Gehlot has to leave the post of the Chief Minister, then it has to be before filing his nomination, because once he becomes Congress president, then it will be impossible for him to let go. Gehlot is also leading a campaign to make Rahul Gandhi the party chief again.

He ensured that the Rajasthan Congress passed a resolution to that effect. If Gandhi accepts the demand, then Gehlot feels he can remain CM. However, reports indicate that the Gandhis have decided not to contest the polls. Several state units have, however, passed resolutions in favour of Gandhi.

In the run-up to the party presidential election, AICC general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal met Congress president Sonia Gandhi to discuss the coming election.



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