Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh on Thursday confirmed that he will be contesting the polls to elect a new Congress president. Singh, who arrived in Delhi on Wednesday, visited the party office today morning to collect his nomination papers.
“Today I have come here to collect my nomination form (for Congress president elections) and will file it tomorrow,” the veteran Congress leader said while speaking to reporters.
The development puts to end all speculation around his candidature for the post of Congress president. Singh, after hinting that he would throw his hat in the rang for the top post, had later said that he would not be entering the fray.
The development assumes significance in view of the ongoing tiff between the top party leadership and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, believed to be the Gandhis’ top choice for the post. As many as 92 Rajasthan MLAs loyal to Gehlot had submitted their resignation to the Assembly Speaker over the party leadership’s “unilateral decision” to replace Gehlot with arch-rival Sachin Pilot as CM.
The move to field Singh is likely to be viewed as pressure tactics by the Gandhis to get Gehlot to fall in line. Gehlot is in Delhi and is expected to meet interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi today.
The meeting comes after a report by Mallikarjun Kharge and Ajay Maken, the two Congress leaders dispatched to Rajasthan by the party leadership to resolve the situation, stated that the rebel MLAs had resorted to “indiscipline” by boycotting the CLP meeting and calling parallel meetings at the same time.
Three MLAs loyal to Gehlot have been shot off show-cause notices by the party’s disciplinary committee while the Rajasthan CM has been exonerated of charges of a conspiracy.
Gehlot, who earlier appeared to have accepted the Congress high command’s decision to contest the polls for the party president, eventually fell out over the Gandhis’ reported plan to appoint Sachin Pilot as his successor. Gehlot, who is yet to file his nomination, has arrived at Sonia Gandhi’s residence to meet the interim president.
He will run against Digvijaya Singh and Shashi Tharoor if he chooses to enter the fray.
Some party leaders believe the move is an attempt to pressure Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who is also contesting, to accept the leadership’s wish that he contest for the top post and leave the decision on his successor in the state to the Gandhis. The development comes amid a standoff between the party and Gehlot in Rajasthan.
Before arriving in the National capital, the former Madhya Pradesh CM was in Kerala with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for the Bharat Jodo Yatra. Singh will also be contesting against Shashi Tharoor.