Will Ashok Gehlot Stay Chief Minister? Sonia Gandhi To Decide In 2 Days

The Congress is hard-pressed to find a replacement for Ashok Gehlot in the internal elections.

New Delhi:

Congress’s Ashok Gehlot has pulled out of the race for the post of the party chief with profuse apologies to Sonia Gandhi. It does not appear to have settled the question of his current job as the Rajasthan Chief Minister, which was at the centre of the very public rebellion by his loyalist MLAs and set off a huge turmoil within the party. A decision on the matter will be “taken in a day or two” senior leader KC Venugopal told NDTV today, shortly after Mr Gehlot met Mrs Gandhi.

Mr Gehlot has said that he has aplogised to Mrs Gandhi for Sunday’s events. More than 90 MLAs loyal to him launched a rebellion and refused to comply with Mrs Gandhi’s instructions — actions which have deeply upset the Gandhis. Key central leaders privately agree that it could not have been done without Mr Gehlot’s knowledge and approval.  

Talking to reporters after the meeting with Mrs Gandhi, Mr Gehlot said Sunday’s incident “shook all of us”.

“A message went across the country that I wanted to remain as Chief Minister, and that is why (all that) happened. I have apologised to Sonia… I feel sorry,” he said.

“It is our tradition to pass that one-line resolution (authorising the Congress president) when a decision is to be made on a Chief Minister. Unfortunately, that resolution could not be passed,” Mr Gehlot said, referring to the resolution on his successor that was to be passed at the Legislature Party meet scheduled that evening.

The MLAs had skipped the meeting, determined to block Sachin Pilot after reports that he would succeed Mr Gehlot as the Chief Minister.

As the leader of the Legislature Party and the Chief Minister, it was his moral responsibility to get the resolution passed, Mr Gehlot said.  Under the circumstances, he has decided not to contest the election, he added.

Asked if he would continue as the Chief Minister, Mr Gehlot said Mrs Gandhi will take a call on the issue. When the question was put to Mr Venugopal, he said, “The decision will be taken by the Congress President within a day or two”.

The party is currently hard-pressed to find a replacement for Mr Gehlot in the internal elections, where he was the front-runner.

Congress sources tell NDTV that the party high command is in discussion for a preferable candidate for the party’s top post, making it a three-cornered fight. Curently the battle is between Digvijaya Singh and Shashi Tharoor, who have declared their candidature.

Mr Pilot, who has been waiting in the wings since the party’s victory in the 2018 Rajasthan elections, is expected to meet Mrs Gandhi later this evening.

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