Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday clarified his stand on running for Congress president, saying that he will be contest only after getting a green signal from ex-president Rahul Gandhi. The senior Congress leader said that he will be flying to Kochi, where Gandhi is participating in the Bharat Jodo Yatra, in a bid to persuade him to run for the elections “one last time.”
The development comes days after Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi declared that the Gandhi family won’t interfere in the elections and will stay completely “neutral” in her meeting with party MP Shashi Tharoor. The Kerala MP is also running for the party’s top post.
Gehlot’s suggestion that he will seek the party leadership’s nod to contest the elections came on the same day that Congress general secretary in-charge of communication Jairam Ramesh took a veiled dig at Tharoor, saying that no such permission was required since the party’s internal elections are being conducted fairly and transparently.
Yet, Gehlot has insisted that he will meet Sonia Gandhi in Delhi and would then fly down to Kochi to convince Gandhi. If he fails in his mission, then he will contest for the party’s top post, according to reports. The process of filing nominations will start on September 24 and finish on September 30, with October 8 being the last date for withdrawing nominations for the October 17 elections.
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In the case of Gehlot choosing to run for the post, he has called upon all the party legislators in the national capital to join him while filing the nomination paper.
Meanwhile, palpable tension prevailed in the Sachin Pilot camp as it is not clear whether Gehlot would resign from his CM post in the event of him becoming the Congress president. According to reports, Gehlot clearly indicated during his meeting with MLAs last evening that he is unwilling to let go of his duties as the CM.
“I am not going anywhere,” Gehlot is learnt to have told Congress MLAs Tuesday, adding that he will “not be far” from them even if he takes up a national role. The assertion came amid buzz that the CM’s chair may go to Pilot if Gehlot chooses to contest the Congress presidential elections and wins.
While the Congress has refuted the claims of a growing rift between the Gehlot and the Pilot camps, things might spiral out of control if Pilot is pushed aside in the race for the Rajasthan CM. It was in 2020 when Pilot’s rebellion had almost brought down the Gehlot government in Rajasthan.
Clearing the air on the uncertainty over Gehlot’s future as the CM, state minister Pratap Singh Khackariyawas told reporters, “Gehlot will continue to remain as the CM when he has himself said that he is not leaving Rajasthan anytime soon.”