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Hectic parleys in Rajasthan as Gehlot gears up for Congress president election | Latest News India


Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and senior Congress leader Sachin Pilot, tipped by some to take over as CM if Gehlot moves to Delhi as Congress president, returned to the state on Friday amid speculation over their future.

While some from the Pilot camp said they were encouraged by signals from the national leadership, others said there was still an element of uncertainty about the future.

Cabinet member Rajendra Gudha, one of the six BSP MLAs who switched over to the Congress, threw his weight behind Pilot and said, “Everyone knows that Gehlot is becoming national president. If a new CM has to be made, there can be no better choice than Sachin Pilot.”

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After a stopover in Shirdi, Gehlot returned from Kochi where he said he made a final attempt to convince Rahul Gandhi to contest the Congress presidential polls, with nominations open from September 24 to 30. Gehlot however confirmed on Friday that he would contest, and that Gandhi had said that “no one from the Gandhi family should become the next chief”.

While there was speculation that Gehlot wanted to continue as both the state chief minister and the national Congress president, that possibility seems to have been put to rest with Gandhi saying on Thursday that he expected that commitments made during the Udaipur chintan shivir to be respected, which included a resolution of “one man, one post”.

Speaking in Shirdi, Gehlot said his comments on wanting to “serve the people of Rajasthan” were misinterpreted.

“This debate is unnecessary. I have remained silent… But I say this even today and will maintain this even after I fill the form that I belong to Rajasthan and I would like to serve the state all my life. What is wrong in saying this?” he said.

With the decks seemingly cleared for a new CM if Gehlot becomes Congress president, Pilot returned to Jaipur from Kochi, where he took part in the Bharat Jodo Yatra, and met several political leaders from the state assembly. An MLA close to Pilot said they had received indications, but were being cautious until a final announcement. “Our leader will be getting what he deserves and with him in the chair, Congress will retain the government,” the MLA said, requesting anonymity.

According to a party leader aware of the details, Pilot met Sonia Gandhi before Gehlot met her on Thursday. While there was no direct assurance given, the leader said, Pilot is said to be feeling “optimistic”. Gandhi is reported to have told him that the party was looking out for his future.

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Pilot, some leaders said, is attempting to assure those from Gehlot’s camp that if a transition does come to pass, he would not give them a raw deal. One of the items of discussion was accommodating Gehlot’s son in a prominent role. Pilot is however keen that Gehlot resign before the nomination process but it was still unclear if the CM would push for a candidate of his liking, such as CP Joshi, another senior leader said.

A cabinet minister close to Gehlot said, “Rahul Gandhi has made his stand clear on one man, one post but knowing Gehlot nothing can be certain about the new face, no matter what the buzz is.”

A person from Gehlot’s team said they will decide the next course of action in 24 hours. “Whether he resigns now or after the polls, all of these things will be firmed up by tomorrow evening.”

(With agency inputs)

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