Ashok Gehlot was a confidante, a go-to-man and a trusted leader to Sonia Gandhi in a party that constantly finds itself in hurdles and crises. Now, the confidante became the problem - the cause of a stir that is bringing the party's high command on the edge. Since last night, 92 MLAs in Rajasthan quit amid discussions of a replacement of the state CM.
All eyes are on Sonia Gandhi now as she tries not to repeat the stinging Punjab chapter, a turmoil so painful that it led to the complete loss of Congress in the state.
An 'upset' Sonia on Monday sought a written report on it from party observers Mallikarjun Kharge and Ajay Maken on the situation in Rajasthan. The Gandhis have always relied on Ashok Gehlot, but it seems not all Gandhis are now concerned about the situation in the state.
Sources told India TV that the chances of Ashok Gehlot becoming the party chief receded and other names cropped up for the post.
Here are the 10 latest developments from Jaipur:
- Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Ajay Maken, and Priyanka Gandhi huddled at 10, Janpath - Sonia's residence - to discuss the issue. After the meeting was over, other names popped up for the presidential poll race.
- Kharge and Maken, who were sent as observers to Jaipur for a Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting, briefed Gandhi in the evening after their return to Delhi and termed the parallel meet held by Gehlot loyalists as "indiscipline". They are expected to recommend disciplinary action against those behind the move, including minister Shanti Dhariwal and Rajasthan Congress chief whip Mahesh Joshi.
- Gehlot reportedly told the two observers that he is not behind the crisis and the MLAs involved in it were not listening to him.
- Gehlot loyalists had submitted resignation letters to Assembly Speaker C P Joshi on Sunday evening, in an apparent bid to put pressure on the central leadership to pick someone from the Gehlot camp as CM if the veteran leader is elected the party president.
- The loyalist MLAs indicated that they were against the appointment of Sachin Pilot, who led a rebellion against Gehlot in 2020, for the post.
- Both Gehlot and Pilot spent the day at their Jaipur homes. Pilot met his supporters, but they refrained from publicly commenting on Sunday’s developments. Gehlot performed a Navratri puja.
- Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi was seen playing football with tribal kids in Kerala, where he is now heading the 'Bharat Jodo' Yatra. He has remained mum on the issues in the western state.
- Congress sources said 82 MLAs loyal to Gehlot are likely to hold another meeting to decide their next course of action. They say they want someone who stood with the Congress government during the political crisis in Rajasthan in 2020 to be the next CM.
- In July 2020, Pilot and 18 other party MLAs rebelled against Gehlot's leadership. The Congress has 108 MLAs in the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly.
- The BJP left no stone unturned to mock the Congress amid the party crisis. Union minister Anurag Thakur on Monday took a jibe at the Congress over its Rajasthan crisis, saying an "entertaining game" is going on in the state ruled by the grand old party.