Stage set for Digvijaya Singh vs Shashi Tharoor for top Congress post
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Thursday opted out of the race for the Congress president’s post and retain his current job. However, he might have to give it up any way, with Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal saying that a decision on the Rajasthan Chief Minister will be taken by Congress president Sonia Gandhi in a day or two.
Top party leaders said Gandhi had taken a dim view of the rebellion of MLAs in Jaipur and did not rule out the possibility of another meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) being called in a day or two to replace Gehlot. This could be a chance for Gehlot to secure a renewed mandate for himself as it is no secret that the majority of MLAs are supporting him. Sachin Pilot, his rival for the top state job, is still in Delhi.
Meanwhile, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh announced his intention to file his nomination. Both he and MP Shashi Tharoor will fight the election for the party top post.
The two candidates met in a spirit of bonhomie and said they did not consider each other rivals, only friendly competitors.
Ashok Gehlot apologised and accepted his responsibility in the events in Jaipur, which have upset the party leadership. “One simple resolution… one-line resolution… it is our tradition to pass that one-line resolution (authorising the Congress president) when a decision is to be made on a CM. Unfortunately, that resolution could not be passed,” he told reporters.
Gehlot said internal issues that have cropped up within the party ahead of the Congress president’s election will be resolved soon. He said the party had internal discipline, which helped it “survive the decline in Lok Sabha numbers” and it continued to be a national party. “There is discipline in the party under Soniaji,” he said.
“The events being reported by the media are small issues which keep happening. The media may have its own perspective on these events,” he added. Gehlot said fighting issues the country is facing is more important for them. “Matters of a family are part and parcel of internal politics. We will solve everything.” He said for them the Congress president is foremost and they all work under her discipline.
“You will see that in the coming days, decisions will be taken on the crisis the country is facing. We are concerned about issues on which Rahul Gandhi is undertaking a yatra. Whether it is inflation or unemployment or the dictatorial tendencies overwhelming the nation,” Gehlot said.
The last day for filing nominations for the presidentship is September 30. The date for withdrawal is October 8. ith two candidates in the race, it remains to be seen if more will join the contest; and who will be the “official” nominee.
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