Big crisis in Congress, 93 pro-Gehlot MLAs resign to stall Sachin Pilot’s elevation

Sources say the number of MLAs may go up to 100.

As Congress gears up for the election of the party President, the development in Rajasthan state unit has put the high command in great trouble and embarrassment. On Sunday, as many as 93 pro-Ashok Gehlot MLAs resigned and sent their letters to the Assembly speaker. Sources said that the number of the MLAs may even go up to 100.
The development on Sunday came in the backdrop of a chain of events before the party’s much-talked-about Presidential election. The Gandhi family’s choice Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is all set to file its nomination this week for the election of Congress President. Although he wanted to don both the hats of Congress President and Rajasthan CM, Rahul Gandhi snubbed it with his ‘one person, one post’ comment recently, forcing Gehlot to make a U-turn.
This prompted a possibility of another leader from Rajasthan Sachin Pilot’s elevation as the chief minister. Pre-empting this, 93 pro-Gehlot MLAs met the speaker C.P. Joshi and submitted their resignations.
Senior minister Pratap Singh Khachariawas said, “MLAs have no complaints against the high command. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are our leaders. But what the MLAs want should be heard. Sachin Pilot is not acceptable as CM. Make someone else CM. The majority is completely with Ashok Gehlot. This is what the high command should understand.” The legislators demanded C.P. Joshi to be made the CM, he added.
Political observers say, in a way, the high command is completely responsible for this crisis. Rebels say when Gehlot’s name came up for the National President, the name of Sachin Pilot, who tried to topple the rebel government, was given importance as the probable for the post of CM. Rebels say Sachin had damaged party’s cause earlier, so he cannot be the CM. Party must choose one leader who has credentials and stood by the party at the time of crisis. “Sachin does not fall into that category. How can a person who betrayed the party are being given importance,” one rebel told The Daily Guardian.
The pro-Gehlot legislators were seen gathered at state minister Shanti Dhariwal’s residence which became the focal point for the day. Sources said it was the 102 MLAs who played an important role in saving the government by being united for 34 days few years ago, one of them should be made the chief minister. If any of the rebel MLAs is made the chief minister, then the government will fall. Out of the 102 MLAs who rejected those offers of crores of rupees, someone should be made the Chief Minister, rebels said.
However, on the behest of Sonia Gandhi, organisation general secretary K.C. Venugopal spoke to Chief Minister Gehlot and asked them to persuade the MLAs. Till late night there were indications that the matter would now drag on. Observers Mallikarjun Kharge and Ajay Maken are also in Jaipur on a fire-fighting mission.  
While Chief Minister Gehlot, who went on Jaisalmer tour, had made it clear that he does not want to continue as the Chief Minister. His only effort will be to win Rajasthan in any case. Therefore, he should not be judged. Gehlot›s statement had no effect on the MLAs. Filing of nominations for the post of Congress president began on Saturday with a contest between Ashok Gehlot and former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor on the cards.
The nominations will be filed till September 30 and results declaring the new Congress chief will be announced on October 19.
This will be the first time in 25 years that Congress will see a non-Gandhi chief after Sonia Gandhi replaced Sitaraman Kesri as party chief in 1998.
The last time the party had a non-Gandhi chief was in 1997 when Sitaram Kesri defeated Sharad Pawar and Rajesh Pilot.