Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, blamed by many Congress leaders for the rebellion of his loyalist MLAs, has been exonerated in the report submitted to party chief Sonia Gandhi. State in-charge Ajay Maken, who was present in Jaipur for Sunday’s drama and submitted the report, has advised action against three MLAs. The list includes chief whip Mahesh Joshi, RTDC chairman Dharmendra Pathak and Shanti Dhariwal, who hosted the parallel meeting of MLAs where they passed a resolution on the next Chief Minister.
At the meeting, the MLAs had raised the issue of Mr Gehlot’s arch-rival Sachin Pilot’s rebellion in 2020. They passed a resolution saying the Chief Minister must be chosen from among those who supported the government at the time. They had threatened mass resignation to keep Mr Pilot out of the top post.
They even defied Sonia Gandhi’s instructions, refusing to have one-on-one meetings with Central leaders, and coming up with a list of demands. It included a status quo till the next party chief is elected — which would empower Mr Gehlot to pick his successor once he was named the Congress chief.
Before submitting the report, Mr Maken had accused the MLAs of “indiscipline” and said their demand of status quo would lead to a conflict of interest.
The exemption of Mr Gehlot comes amid efforts to resolve the situation in Rajasthan, which threatened to spin out of control on Sunday. A section of leaders are making efforts to reach out to him.
It is not clear though, whether Mr Gehlot — front-runner for the post of the party president — is still in the race.
The Gandhis were said to be upset with the 71-year-old, a longtime loyalist of the family. Mrs Gandhi has not spoken to Mr Gehlot yet, though some leaders said he might come to Delhi for a meeting with her.
Sources indicated that he might still file his nomination.
Mr Gehlot, in his efforts to keep arch-rival Sachin Pilot out of the top job in Rajasthan, had declared that he could juggle both posts.
But the possibility was negated by Rahul Gandhi’s comment that the party will stick to the “One man one post rule”. The countermove came from Team Gehlot in the form of open rebellion.