Ashok Gehlot loyalists meet ahead of Congress president electiontext_fields
Jaipur: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has been extremely reluctant to leave his position even though he is a frontrunner for the post of Congress President. As Congress High Command's choice for the next CM is Sachin Pilot, Gehlot's loyalists met for a meeting at the home of Shanti Dhariwal.
Four ministers - BD Kalla, Mahesh Joshi, Mahendrajit Malviya, Arjun Bamaniya - are among the leaders gathered ahead of the crucial Legislature Party meet where the next CM will be named. Central leader KC Venugopal, state in-charge Ajay Maken, and Independent MLA Sanyam Lodha will also be part of the meeting.
It is likely that they will try to keep a Gehlot loyalist in the top post in the state. However, sources told NDTV that Sonia Gandhi will be naming the next Chief Minister. Expressing distaste at Pilot becoming Chief Minister, cabinet minister Govind Ram Meghwal told the media that Ashok Gehlot should remain CM. Lodha also said: "If the decision is not taken according to the wishes of the MLAs, how will the government run? The government will fall."
Rajasthan's 13 independent MLAs are likely to decide which way the decision sways. 12 of them are backing Gehlot. Congress needs the support of independent MLAs to maintain stability. In the 200-seat state assembly, Congress has 100 MLAs.
Ashok Gehlot cannot be Congress President and Rajasthan Chief Minister at the same time due to the 'One Man, One Post' resolution introduced by Rahul Gandhi. He is currently away in Jaisalmer and will be joining the meeting later.
Sachin Pilot is said to be at the helm of the election campaign that won the last assembly election in Rajasthan. He was persuaded by Rahul Gandhi to act as Gehlot's Deputy. Two years ago, Pilot and his supporters rebelled demanding he gets a bigger role in the government.