High drama unfolded in Rajasthan on Sunday night with more than 90 Congress MLAs loyal to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot threatening to resign if Sachin Pilot is made his successor. The legislators, who met at cabinet minister Shanti Dhariwal's residence ahead of the scheduled Congress Legislature Party meeting, also demanded that the new CM be picked up from their camp.
The CLP meeting was to be held at the chief minister's residence at 7.30 pm but delayed in the wake of fresh developments that have now pushed the party into a full-blown crisis.
Gehlot will have to abdicate the CM post if he wins the Congress president election on October 17. There have been reports that the party high command has tapped Pilot for the state's top post.
However, Gehlot's loyalists maintained that the new CM should be someone who was instrumental in saving the government during the political crisis in 2020 and not someone who was involved in toppling it.
The MLAs, including a few Independents, reached Speaker C.P. Joshi's residence in Jaipur to submit their resignation. The Congress has 108 members in the 200-member house. It also enjoys the support of 13 Independents.
"All the MLAs are angry and are resigning. We are going to the speaker. The MLAs are upset and how can CM Ashok Gehlot take a decision without consulting them?,” Pratap Singh Khachariyawas, a cabinet minister, told ANI before leaving for the speaker's residence.
"CM Gehlot should pay heed to the suggestions of MLAs. We have 92 MLAs with us,” he further said.
Gehlot and Pilot were at loggerheads for the chief minister's post soon after the Congress won the Assembly elections in December 2018. The high command then chose Gehlot as the chief minister for the third time while Pilot was made his deputy. In July 2020, Pilot along with 18 party MLAs rebelled against Gehlot's leadership.
Congress observers Mallikarjun Kharge and Ajay Maken, along with Gehlot, have reached the chief minister's residence where the Congress Legislature Party meeting was to be held. Pilot also has reached there separately. About 25 legislators were present there, PTI reported.
Gehlot and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor are considered to be the top contenders for the Congress president post. Filing of nomination started on Saturday and the election will be held on October 17. Result will be declared on October 19.