The ruling Congress in Rajasthan plunged into a crisis with 92 legislators owing allegiance to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot threatening to resign en masse if former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot was picked as his successor.
The already troubled relationship between Gehlot and Pilot deteriorated further when Pilot briefly mounted a challenge to Gehlot's leadership in July 2020. Pilot and 18 MLAs walked out on the government, protesting against Gehlot's 'autocratic' style of functioning.
Gehlot is bitterly opposed to the high command's idea of elevating Sachin Pilot as the party's legislative leader and instead wants a loyalist installed as his successor. Gehlot camp has mooted the names of Govind Singh Dotsara, a senior Congress leader from the Jat community or C.P Joshi, a former Union Minister and currently the assembly speaker, as his successor.
Ending weeks of speculations over his candidature for the post of Congress, president CM Gehlot confirmed last week that he would be joining the contest. He is expected to file his nomination this week. Gehlot is widely believed to have the backing of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty for the post.
Despite Rahul Gandhi asserting that every functionary should uphold the spirit of Udaypur resolution of 'one-man, one-post', Gehlot and his supporters have been demanding that the veteran Congress leader from Rajasthan should be allowed to continue as the state CM in addition to donning the mantle of national president.
In clearest admission of large-scale dissension, the party high command postponed a scheduled Congress Legislature Party meeting to pick Gehlot's successor. The meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. at CM's residence, could not take place as the Gehlot loyalists were closeted at senior Cabinet Minister Shanti Kumar Dhariwal's residence.
The swift manoeuvring by Gehlot camp followers has caught Congress's top leadership off guard. It will undoubtedly pose a massive challenge to the plans of effecting a smooth leadership transition in the state.
The Nehru-Gandhi dynasty is keen to elevate Pilot as Gehlot's successor and has reportedly promised Pilot that he will be a natural choice as the party's CM candidate in Rajasthan in a post-Gehlot scenario. Pilot believes that his energetic leadership in the run-up to 2108 state assembly polls was responsible for Congress being voted to power in the state.
In the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly, the Congress holds a slim majority of 101 legislators. A wily political operator, Gehlot also managed to break the BSP and managed to lure 6 MLAs of the party to join Congress. At least 12 Independents, mostly propped up by Gehlot to undercut party rivals, also support the government.
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