Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Thursday said he will not contest the elections for Congress president given the prevailing atmosphere and said that a decision on him continuing as the chief minister would be taken by interim party president Sonia Gandhi.
Gehlot’s comments came after a meeting with Sonia Gandhi in Delhi a short while ago. Speaking to the media after the meeting, Gehlot said, “I met Rahul Gandhi in Kochi and requested him to fight in the polls (for Congress President). When he didn’t accept, I said I will contest but now with that incident (rebellion by MLAs), I have decided not to contest the elections,” adding that he has decided to opt out of the race due to the “atmosphere, with moral responsibility.”
Gehlot further said he has apologised to Sonia Gandhi for the recent developments. “I had a conversation with Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi. Whatever happened two days ago shocked us. It gave a message that all of it happened as I wanted to be CM. I apologised to her,” he said.
Gehlot also referred to his failure in getting a resolution passed by his MLAs following a rebellion that he had termed as something beyond his control.
“One-line resolution is our tradition. Unfortunately, a situation arose that resolution wasn’t passed. It was my moral responsibility, but despite being a CM I couldn’t get the resolution passed,” Gehlot added.
Gehlot’s meeting with Sonia Gandhi came a day ahead of the deadline for filing nominations for elections to the post of Congress president. On Thursday, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh collected the nomination form and said he will file his nomination tomorrow.
Earlier, a rebellion by as many as 100 MLAs loyal to Gehlot against his possible removal as CM, and the likely appointment of Sachin Pilot as his replacement. The MLAs, miffed with the high command’s ‘unilateral’ decision, refused to attend a CLP meet called by the Chief Minister in the presence of central observers Ajay Maken and Mallikarjun Kharge, an act the central leadership saw as a case of “indiscipline”.
The MLAs, in their subsequent meeting with Maken and Kharge, conveyed to the party leadership that the resolution empowering the Congress president to decide on the next Rajasthan CM, be taken only after the election process concludes. The central leadership, however, argued that such a condition would amount to a clear case of conflict of interest since it would, in all likelihood, be Gehlot deciding upon his own continuation as Chief Minister.
The Congress party, at its Chintan Shivir in Udaipur earlier this year, had adopted the ‘one man, one post’ rule, which would effectively mean Gehlot would have to step down as Rajasthan CM if he would be elected Congress president. He is also against the proposal to appoint Pilot as his successor.