legislature party meet in the state.
The mass resignations sought to preempt the possibility of the Congress’ high command from picking Gehlot’s bête noire
as the next chief minister.
Meanwhile, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot met with AICC observers on Monday, including Ajay
, to discuss future course of action.
Ajay Maken part of conspiracy to remove CM: Gehlot camp
He added that Gehlot had always followed the instructions of the high command. “The high command had (back in 2020) asked him to accommodate those in the wrong and he accepted what was asked (to include Sachin Pilot),” he said adding: “A general secretary [Ajay Maken] himself is canvassing to make such people [Pilot] CM. MLAs had to get angry, disgruntled. MLAs asked me to listen to their voice. They want someone from 102 MLAs who huddled together to stay with Congress for over 34 days (in 2020) to be made CM.”
“MLAs of Rajasthan will not sit through & tolerate traitors being rewarded,” the minister said.
Kamal Nath called to Delhi
The Congress high command has summoned senior leader Kamal Nath to Delhi and he is likely to meet party chief Sonia Gandhi on Monday, sources said.
The visit of Kamal Nath, the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee chief, to Delhi comes amid a political drama in Rajasthan over leadership change following Ashok Gehlot’s announcement that he would contest the AICC president polls.
Kamal Nath is known to have close ties with the Rajasthan chief minister and could be asked to broker a truce, sources said.
Gehlot camp MLAs quit
Cabinet minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas, said 92 MLAs were at Rajasthan speaker CP Joshi’s door, while independent legislator and CM Gehlot’s adviser Sanyam Lodha pegged the number of resignations at 83.
Lodha said the next CM should be picked “from among the 102 Congress MLAs who staunchly stood by the party during the 35-day crisis in 2020, and not from the MLAs who camped in Manesar in Haryana.
By midnight, the MLAs had returned home after putting in their resignations.
Gehlot MLAs put up three demands
A day after the drama, AICC observer Ajay Maken said that the miffed MLAs of the Gehlot camp met them and kept three demands.
“Cong MLAs Pratap Khachariyawas, S Dhariwal & CP Joshi met us, kept 3 demands. One was to announce the implementation of resolution of handing over the responsibility to appoint CM to Congress President after Oct 19; we said it’ll be a conflict of interest,” he said.
“If CM Ashok Gehlot becomes Congress chief after Oct 19,he can empower himself over his own resolution. 2nd condition- they wanted to come in groups when we said that we shall talk to everyone individually; we made it clear that this isn’t how it works, but they didn’t accept”, Maken said was the second demand.
“Third condition was that the CM should be from the 102 MLAs who are loyal to CM Ashok Gehlot, not Sachin Pilot or his group. We said that their exact sentiments will be conveyed to Congress chief, who will take the decision after talking to CM Ashok Gehlot and everyone else.”
The Congress MLAs insisted that the resolution be in line with 3 conditions, to which we said that never in the history of Congress has any resolution been passed with strings attached to it and which is conditional, and added that there should be no conflict of interest.
Won’t accept Pilot as CM, say ministers and MLAs
Gehlot’s loyalists had been camping at the residence of cabinet minister Pratap Singh’s colleague, Shanti Dhariwal, making clear their disagreement with the decision to authorise Congress’s interim president Sonia Gandhi to pick the next CM through a one-line resolution passed at the CLP.
The scenes at the residence of Dhariwal, seen as Gehlot’s troubleshooter, suggested his loyalists didn’t subscribe to this view.
By late evening, most ministers and MLAs, including some independents, were speaking openly that they wouldn’t accept as CM anyone from among Sachin Pilot and the 18 legislators who revolted against the government over two years ago.
Six of these 18 MLAs met Pilot after he reached Jaipur from New Delhi in the afternoon. But, unlike Gehlot’s supporters, they were mum on the way forward.
Cabinet minister and chief whip in assembly Mahesh Joshi said, “Whatever the party high command decides would be acceptable to us. We will convey our views to the high command through the CLP.”
CLP meet rescheduled twice, called off
The CLP meeting which was scheduled for 7pm on Sunday evening was rescheduled twice before it was called off.
Sachin Pilot, PCC chief Govind Singh Dotasra and a few other MLAs had arrived by 8pm.
Gehlot, who returned to Jaipur last evening, first met AICC general secretary Ajay Maken and leader of the opposition Mallikarjun Kharge at a city hotel for nearly an hour starting 7pm.
According to sources, the Gehlot camp feared “political vengeance” if Pilot were to be made CM.
Sonia tells Maken, Kharge to hold one-on-one talks with MLAs
Following the high drama on Sunday evening, party interim president Sonia Gandhi directed observers Mallikarjun Kharge and Ajay Maken to conduct one-on-one talks with Rajasthan MLAs to resolve the issue.
Both the observers are likely to meet around 90 MLAs who have tendered their resignation to Assembly Speaker.
We are not going to Delhi at the moment, we have been instructed by Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi to conduct one-to-one talks with Rajasthan Congress MLAs. We will meet them tonight,” Maken said.
Congress leader KC Venugopal further assured that things would be sorted out soon.
“Neither did I talk to CM Ashok Gehlot, nor did he call me, things will be sorted out soon,” said Venugopal.
New generation should get chance to lead, says CM
Meanwhile, disgruntled with the party, Rajasthan ministers Pratap Singh Khachariyawas and Shanti Dhariwal are meeting AICC observers Ajay Maken and Mallikarjun Kharge at CM Ashok Gehlot’s residence.
Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot said he had told Congress chief Sonia Gandhi that his successor should be someone who can bring the party to office again in the 2023 assembly election.
“Whether it is me or someone else, select the person who will ensure we form the government again. I said this in front of Sonia ji and (Ajay) Maken ji in August,” said Gehlot.
“The thing in my mind is that the new generation and us together should provide leadership in the country.”
BJP all eyes on Congress scenario, calls it ‘drama’
Leaders of the Opposition BJP briefed their central leadership on the evolving scenario and reacted with comments dripping with sarcasm.
Calling the offer of resignation by Congress MLAs of CM Ashok Gehlot’s faction a “political drama”, Deputy Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore said if Congress MLAs were serious about resigning, they should follow the right procedure.
“Dear brave Congress MLAs, stop pretending to resign. If you actually want to resign, then submit your resignations to the Speaker under Rule 173 of the Rules and Procedures of the Assembly. I request the Speaker to accept the resignation immediately under 173(2),” said Rathore, hinting that BJP would ask the Governor to take appropriate action in the emerging circumstances.
BJP state president Satish Poonia further likened the situation in to a cricket match of the day. He tweeted, “There is not so much uncertainty in the India-Australia cricket match today as in the Congress party of Rajasthan. The meetings of the MLAs are going on separately amid the hypocrisy of resignations. Where will they take Rajasthan? God save Rajasthan. . . ”
Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat tweeted, “This government of fencing is ready to go to an enclosure once again!!” BJP national in-charge Arun Singh tweeted, “Rajasthan’s people have understood the Congress drama for four years. ”
How numbers stack up in the assembly
Congress has 108 MLAs in the 200-member House while BJP has 71, 3, BTP and CPM 2 each and RJD 1.
There are also 13 independents in the assembly.