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Congress prez poll: Gehlot, probable candidate, not keen on giving up Rajasthan CM post

He would want a loyalist to be appointed in his place

PTI07_26_2022_000131A Ashok Gehlot | PTI

The hectic politicking in the Congress with regard to the election to the post of party president is having reverberations in the state unit in Rajasthan, with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot giving clear indications to party MLAs that he might file a nomination. He, however, dropped hints that he is not keen on detaching himself from Jaipur and making concessions to his rival Sachin Pilot.

At a late-night meeting of the Congress Legislature Party in Jaipur, which was convened at very short notice, Gehlot told the MLAs that he will meet former party president Rahul Gandhi in Kerala where the latter is undertaking the Bharat Jodo Yatra and try and persuade him to come back as party chief. In the event of Rahul not acceding to his request, he said he will abide by whatever is the directive of the party high command.

Gehlot, who arrived in Delhi on Wednesday and was scheduled to have a meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi, said in response to reporters' questions, “It is an open election. Anybody can contest this election...Time will tell where I will be. If I could help it, I would not hold any post.”

According to sources, Gehlot said to the legislators in last night's meeting that no matter where he goes and what position he occupies, he will not be away from the state. Gehlot, who has been chief minister of Rajasthan thrice, said it is his responsibility that the Congress government is repeated in the state. He also asked the MLAs to prepare for the budget, which is expected to be presented early, by preparing a list of the issues and demands pertinent to their constituencies that should be incorporated into the budget. The chief minister is learned to be not too keen on giving up the post. It is believed that he would want a loyalist to be appointed in his place and that he would not want to cede space to Pilot.

Interestingly, Pilot was not present in the CLP meeting since he had arrived in Kochi last evening to participate in the Bharat Jodo Yatra. Gehlot will arrive in Kerala on Thursday.

If at all Gehlot files the nomination for the intra-party polls in the national capital, the Congress veteran is keen on turning it into a show of strength. This is significant in the backdrop of Pilot's claims to the chief minister's post.

At the CLP meeting, when several MLAs said that he should continue to be in Rajasthan, Gehlot responded by saying that in a few days' time, the picture will be clear with regard to the election. He said that if he files the nomination, the legislators will certainly be informed about it as they will have to be in Delhi with him for the filing of the nomination papers.

Meanwhile, Pilot took part in the Bharat Jodo Yatra along with Rahul in Kochi on Wednesday. Talking to reporters, he responded cautiously to queries on the expectation that the election for the post of Congress President was expected to be a contest between Gehlot and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor. He said, “We have to wait for two or three days to see how things develop. Like Mr Jairam Ramesh has said, anybody who is keen to fight the election can file nomination. It is a very open and transparent process. We will have to wait for a few days to see who all actually file nomination.”

Asked by reporters about his talks with Rahul, he merely said, “We talked about many things. This Bharat Jodo Yatra is historic. It has had a tremendous response. Not just in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, but the entire country, people are waiting for the Yatra to come there.”

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