Ashok Gehlot opts out of race for Congress chief, apologises to Sonia Gandhi for Sunday events : The Tribune India

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Ashok Gehlot opts out of race for Congress chief, apologises to Sonia Gandhi for Sunday events

Gehlot’s written apology appears to be the tool to broker peace between the two sides



Tribune News Service

Aditi Tandon

New Delhi, September 29

In a dramatic turn of events on Thursday, Congress veteran Ashok Gehlot walked out of the party presidential race and chose to stay the Chief Minister of Rajasthan amid the organisation’s insistence on one person, one post rule.

Gehlot opted out of the race “taking moral responsibility for failing as CM to get a one-line MLAs’ resolution passed authorising Congress president Sonia Gandhi to take a decision on state leadership issue”, and said he had apologised to Sonia for the same.

Gehlot is learnt to have submitted a written apology for the turn of events in Jaipur on Sunday where 92 MLAs loyal to him boycotted an official legislature party meeting choosing to attend an informal meeting which ended with all pro-CM loyalists tendering resignations to Speaker CP Joshi.

After meeting Sonia Gandhi today, Gehlot said Sonia would decide on the issue of state leadership.

Sources, however, indicated that Gehlot’s apology could be seen as a face saver for the party to let him keep his CM’s chair.

Asked if he would contest in the party chief’s elections, Gehlot said, “I earlier requested Rahukl Gandhi in Kochi that everyone wants him to be party president but he said he would not fight. I had then said I will contest elections because everyone wants me to contest. But after the Sunday episode in Jaipur, I have decided not to fight elections for the party president’s post in the current circumstances.”

On the CM-ship, Gehlot said, “Sonia Gandhi will decide.”

“I have spoken at length with Sonia. Over the past 50 years, I have worked as a faithful soldier of the party and I was always trusted with responsibilities and given roles as Union Minister, state unit chief, three-time CM, with the blessings of Sonia ji. What happened on Sunday shook us all. Only I know the pain I felt. I have regretted to Sonia and apologised to her. A one-line resolution is a tradition of the party. That is the convention in all meetings whether in elections or CM-ship. Unfortunately, that resolution could not be passed. I take moral responsibility that despite being CM, I was unable to get the resolution passed for the first time. I have said sorry to Sonia that I could not succeed in this.”

Gehlot’s apology is being seen in party circles as the middle path between the two sides to buy peace.

It gives Sonia Gandhi a face saver after a humiliating rebellion of sorts by the Rajasthan MLAs on Sunday and it allows Gehlot to stay in the post, even when the latter said Sonia would decide on CM-ship.

It is unlikely the party will oust a sitting CM with Assembly elections due in late 2023, knowing well the open support he enjoys of ministers and lawmakers.

The Congress can’t afford to stake its government in a bid to replace Gehlot with Sachin Pilot, whose bid for the CM’s post appears to have been stalled once again.

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