Congress President Sonia Gandhi summoned Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to New Delhi for a meeting to resolve the crisis created by the antics of 82 of the party’s legislators on Sunday.
The aim of the meeting appears to be to persuade Gehlot to contest for the Congress presidency as decided and leave it to Sonia Gandhi to decide who would succeed him as Chief Minister.
However, by late evening it became clear that the meeting would only take place on Thursday as Gehlot arrived late in the national capital after the tantrums by his supporters when he met them in Jaipur.
His arch rival Sachin Pilot, who is already in the capital, had been tipped off to stand by for a possible meeting with Mrs Gandhi for the rapprochement between him and Gehlot, party sources said. They said everyone was waiting for a major announcement by the party’s interim president after her meeting with Gehlot and Pilot and party leaders had been told not to speculate and harm the already tattered image of the Congress.
Indications are that Pilot will be advised to give up his ambition to become Chief Minister since the majority of the party’s MLAs in the state are opposed to him and prepare to take over as Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee President and work for the party’s success in the assembly election next year, something he did before the 2018 election also.
Sonia Gandhi is already in touch with senior party leaders, consulting them on how to resolve the Rajasthan crisis. Most have suggested that it should not come in the way of Gehlot becoming the Congress president to act under the guidance of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.
Gehlot is being persuaded to file his nomination on Thursday while former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh also entered the race. He will break away from the Bharat Jodo Yatra on Thursday when it enters Karnataka and file his nomination for the top Congress post on Sep 30, the last date for nominations.
Kerala MP Shashi Tharoor has also announced that he will file his nomination on Sep 30. Congress Treasurer Pawan Kumar Bansal also secured the nomination papers, but he may not enter the race if the Rajasthan turmoil is resolved.
Congress sources said Gehlot may be allowed to continue as the Chief Minister for the time being, with an understanding that he will step down on Oct 20, a day after the results of the Congress presidential elections are declared, and let Mrs Gandhi pick his nominee as his successor.