According to reports, more than 90 party legislators in Rajasthan were miffed by the fact that the central leadership was choosing someone who rebelled against the party in 2020 and is ignoring the interest of those who stood firmly with the party at that time.
The drama unfolded at a time when central observers Ajay Maken and Mallikarjun Kharge were waiting for the legislators to arrive for the crucial CLP meeting to decide the next move.
Sachin Pilot came along with his supporters but there was no headway.
Maken and Kharge are expected to submit a report to interim president Sonia Gandhi today and explain the situation in the state.
- Why are Gehlot loyalists angry?
The MLAs close to chief minister Ashok Gehlot have staged protests against the likely move to put Sachin Pilot in the CM’s chair. The loyalists consider it as ignoring the interests of those who stood by the party when Pilot rebelled along with his supporters in 2020. They want the party’s central leadership to take the views of legislators into account while deciding on the next CM.
- What’s the reason behind the crisis?
Ashok Gehlot is considered the front runner in the internal elections to Congress party president’s post being currently held by Sonia Gandhi. In the wake of Rahul Gandhi clearly refusing the appeal by many in the Congress to take up the position, Gehlot who is a staunch loyalist and has held many organisational roles is likely to sail through. Shashi Tharoor is also in the fray. Gehlot’s hope to continue as the CM even after getting elected party president was immediately shot down by Rahul Gandhi when he reiterated the ‘one man, one role’ stand taken at the Udaipur Chintan Shivir. Now, the Gehlot loyalists want him to have a say in choosing his successor. Gehlot himself has kept a distance from the legislators’ demands and put faith in party’s central leadership.
- What do Gehlot supporters want?
The Congress has 108 MLAs in the Rajasthan Assembly out of a total of 200. A sizeable number of around 90 MLAs are believed to be supporting Ashok Gehlot. They want the next chief minister to be someone who stood by the party and helped save the government when Pilot had rebelled in 2020. They also want the decision to be postponed until the central party president elections are held. Ashok Gehlot had said that the CLP would pass a one line resolution declaring that the party president Sonia Gandhi would choose his successor. But later the party legislators didn’t turn up for the CLP meeting which was a complete washout.
- What will be Gehlot’s next move?
Gehlot is the preferred choice to lead the party in the absence of a Gandhi at the helm of affairs. He is a trusted name who has vast experience and has the faith of Gandhis. His popularity among cadres adds to his heft within the party. All eyes will firmly be on Gehlot’s nomination for the party president’s election. With the revolt from Congress MLAs in Rajasthan against the central leadership, many are questioning now whether it will be prudent to move Gehlot to Delhi.
- Is the Congress government in Rajasthan in danger?
If the central leadership goes ahead with its plans to appoint Gehlot’s successor while he still is the chief minister, the MLAs loyal to him could erupt in protest. “If a decision is not taken keeping the MLAs’ sentiments in mind, the government will be in danger,” PTI quoted independent legislator and advisor to the chief minister Sanyam Lodha as saying. The move by Congress MLAs has stunned everyone. Senior Congress leader Margaret Alva tweeted: “The events unfolding in #Rajasthan are deeply disappointing, unfortunate & unnecessary. Senior leaders in the state must be prepared to sacrifice personal ambition & take their cue from @RahulGandhi who has shown what the Congress needs the most right now is selfless service.”