Ashok Gehlot tries to distance self from ‘parallel meeting’ | India News

JAIPUR: Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday distanced himself from the alleged “parallel meeting” at cabinet colleague Shanti Dhariwal‘s residence in the run-up to the mass resignations that scuttled Sunday night’s CLP meeting, saying that MLAs supposedly loyal to him gathered there without his knowledge and that he never intended to deviate from what the Congress high command wanted him to do.
Gehlot also reportedly told around two dozen Congress MLAs and ministers who turned up at his residence that he wasn’t “far from you all”, seemingly caught between his loyalists and the controversy over the chaos triggered by their sudden revolt against the possibility of his bete noire Sachin Pilot becoming the next CM.
Gehlot advised the legislators, who wanted to express solidarity with him in the ongoing crisis, that they should return to their constituencies and work harder rather than “get carried away by media reports”, sources said.
Food and civil supplies minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas said Congress MLAs were not against the high command, but got agitated after media reports suggested the AICC observers had been sent to anoint Pilot as Gehlot’s successor.
Gehlot told his flock he didn’t want to hold any post as long as Congress retained the reins in Rajasthan, iterating what he claimed to have told interim Congress chief Sonia Gandhi last month.
Those who called on the CM included ministers Rajendra Yadav, Sukram Vishnoi, Lal Chand Kataria, Udailal Anjana, Bhanwar Singh Bhati, Saleh Mohammad and Ashok Chandna. Deputy chief whip Mahendra Chaudhary and MLAs Meena Kumari, Rafiq Khan, Khushveer Singh Jojawar, Amit Chachan, Madan Prajapat and Jagdish Jangid were also there.
As Congress signalled a crackdown on “indiscipline” by some Gehlot loyalists, a couple of MLAs gave statements vouching for the steps ordered by the central leadership. The list included minister Shakuntala Rawat and former minister Jitendra Singh, among others. Both are from the Gujjar community, to which Gehlot’s bete noire Pilot belongs.
There has been resentment among the Gujjars against community leaders over Pilot being repeatedly prevented from becoming CM. Some Pilot supporters accused Dhariwal and Joshi of playing spoilsport. Minister Rajendra Gudha, who used to be on Gehlot’s side until recently, said on Tuesday that Dhariwal’s actions would cost Congress dearly in Rajasthan. He claimed the CM was unlikely to be a candidate for party president’s post after what transpired in the state since Sunday.

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