NEW DELHI: Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot‘s hope that he could become the next Congress president while still holding on to his CM post was dealt a big blow while Sachin Pilot
‘s case for CM-ship of the state got a big boost on Thursday as Rahul Gandhi
firmly declared that the party’s ‘one-man, one-post’ pledge would be maintained.
Responding to queries during a press conference held between the first and second leg of the day’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, Gandhi said: “What we decided at Udaipur
[during chintan shivir] earlier this year, we expect that commitment to be maintained.”
The comment comes a day after Gehlot — widely seen as the preferred choice of the Gandhis for the top party post — said the presidency is an elected post and the ‘one-man, one-post’ principle is for nominations.
“Where it’s a nomination, there it is two posts. But this is an open poll. Anyone out of the 9,000 PCC members can contest, be it an MP, MLA or CM or minister. If it is a minister, he can be a minister and also Congress chief,” he said, adding that he would present Rajasthan’s 2023 budget.
Gehlot vs Pilot
Party sources said that Gehlot, 71, fears he will be replaced by rival Sachin Pilot, whose rebellion nearly brought down his government in 2020. Party veteran Digvijaya Singh, however, reiterated that if Gehlot becomes the party chief, he would “have to quit as CM, as per the Udaipur declaration”.
Pilot’s 2020 rebellion is widely seen as a red mark on his credentials but sources said he is still the first choice of the Congress leadership for succeeding Gehlot.
Where the party faces trouble is Gehlot’s complete hold over the Rajasthan legislature party, which many believe will make the functioning difficult for anyone who doesn’t enjoy his approval.
Sources said that Gehlot may recommend Rajasthan speaker CP Joshi’s name for the post of CM.
Meanwhile, Gehlot arrived in Kerala on Thursday amid speculation as to who all would be contesting the party’s presidential polls. Pilot had joined Rahul in Kerala on Wednesday itself.
During the press conference on Thursday, Rahul was also asked whether he had any advice for those seeking to be the next Congress chief.
“The post of Congress president is not just an organisational position but an ideological post and a belief system. The party chief should remember that the post represents a set of ideas, a belief system and a vision of India,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Congress on Thursday issued a notification for the party president poll, setting the ball rolling for electing the successor to the longest-serving chief Sonia Gandhi, with senior leaders Ashok Gehlot and Shashi Tharoor being seen as potential contenders.
According to the notification, the process for filing nominations for the election will be held from September 24 to 30.
The scrutiny of the nomination papers would take place on October 1, while the last date of withdrawal of nominations would be October 8. The final list of candidates would be published at 5 PM on August 8.
Polling, if required, will take place on October 17. The counting of votes and the declaration of results would be on October 19.
(With inputs from agencies)