Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot is geared up to make one more and possibly a last attempt to convince Rahul Gandhi to file his nomination papers for the post of Congress president. And for this, he travelled all the way to Kochi from Jaipur to join the Bharat Jodo yatra with the Wayanad MP even as Gehlot’s bête noire Sachin Pilot was already there.
The party is also pinning its hopes and said that in case Rahul Gandhi changes his mind, there will be an arrangement made for a postal ballot and filing of his nomination through the post. But it seems that Gehlot may have to end up filing his papers. However, the big problem remains whether he has to resign as chief minister. Sachin Pilot’s supporters certainly hope so and are already on alert.
The rule being applied is that of “one man, one post”. In the past, this rule was never applied as Sachin Pilot was both deputy CM and state Congress president. The same was the case with Kamal Nath. Not just this, but when Rajiv Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, and PV Narasimha Rao were prime ministers, they were also party presidents.
One man, one post: Udaipur resolution
But all this changed with the Udaipur resolution when it was decided that it has to be only “one man, one post”. This rule, if applied, adds to the woes of Ashok Gehlot.
Chief electoral officer Madhusudan Mistry though told News18.com, “There is no such rule for the president’s post.” This has given hope to the Gehlot camp. But not for long.
Sources say that Sonia Gandhi while wanting to remain neutral in the entire poll process, also wants a decision to be taken finally on the desert state, especially since it’s poll-bound. Gehlot made it clear that he would file his nomination if the situation demands and that while he doesn’t think he can’t continue as CM, he won’t insist on it. He conveyed to Sonia that, firstly, Rajasthan was in a critical situation and any uncertainty now would help the BJP. Secondly, he told her that the MLAs must be asked before any decision is taken on a new CM.
Without mentioning Sachin Pilot, what Gehlot is banking on is that the majority of MLAs are likely to support the current chief minister. If Gehlot has to step down in case he becomes the president, then MLAs could push for someone who is considered close to the CM.
But the pressure is clearly on the Gandhis as they know they cannot postpone the decision for long. Sources close to Pilot say that he has been patient because he has been assured that he would get his chance. Gehlot’s shift to Delhi could just be the opportunity he has been waiting for. While for Gehlot, a president’s designation just adds to his stature, especially in case Congress loses Rajasthan, he wouldn’t want to give up his grip on a state he has been powerful in. He also has to take care of his son’s future.
But Sonia Gandhi is also keen that a middle path is found where, as the president, he can also look after Rajasthan. Ironically, if no step is taken before the polls, the Rajasthan uncertainty may be one of the first decisions Ashok Gehlot has to make in case he becomes president of the Congress.