Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot will meet the Congress high command in New Delhi on Wednesday amid suspense over whether he will file nomination for the post of party president, sources here said.
Gehlot’s visit comes a day after the Congress issued show-cause notices to three of his loyalists – Rajasthan ministers Shanti Dhariwal and Mahesh Joshi, and Dharmendra Rathore – for their ”grave indiscipline”.
The party’s disciplinary committee has asked the three to explain within 10 days why action should not be initiated against them after the observers for Rajasthan – Mallikarjun Kharge and Ajay Maken – in their report to party chief Sonia Gandhi charged them with ”gross indiscipline”.
The action came after 82 MLAs participated in a parallel meeting at Dhariwal’s residence in Jaipur laying down conditions to the party and did not attend the official legislature party meeting convened for passing a resolution authorising the Congress chief to appoint a successor to Gehlot, who was to contest the Congress presidential election.
With the Rajasthan episode posing a significant challenge before the party, the Congress president has initiated discussions with senior party leaders from across the country to resolve the crisis even as the fate of Gehlot who was considered frontrunner for the top party post remained uncertain.
Several names have cropped up for the probable presidential candidate including Kharge, A K Antony, Kamal Nath, Digvijaya Singh, Ambika Soni and Pawan Kumar Bansal, though most of them ruled themselves out of the race.
The name of Gehlot for the top party post is, however, not completely ruled out yet, according to informed sources.
Among various senior leaders, Gandhi is learnt to have called Congress veterans A K Antony and Sushilkumar Shinde for consultations here. There is also a likelihood that fresh observers may be sent to Rajasthan and Shinde may be one of them.
Gandhi is considering resolving the matter after consultations with top party leaders who are keeping their fingers crossed on the situation.
After the developments in Jaipur, sources said Gehlot has reached out to Sonia Gandhi and is learnt to have explained his position, while his arch-rival Sachin Pilot rushed to Delhi ahead of any decision on Rajasthan.
Gehlot is learnt to have told Gandhi that he was not behind the parallel meet of MLAs and it was organised without his knowledge.
The Rajasthan chief minister is also understood to have told Gandhi that he would abide by any decision taken by her and the party, the sources said.
Gehlot also held a closed-door meeting with party MLAs in Jaipur on Tuesday and is learnt to have apprised them of the latest developments.
Gehlot was considered as the favourite for the post of Congress president and had the blessings of Sonia Gandhi. The latest developments have marred his prospects for the top party position, though he is yet not out of the race.
Amid suspense over Gehlot’s fate, the party’s central election authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry on Tuesday said AICC treasurer Pawan Kumar Bansal has got nomination forms collected but they might be for someone else. Bansal said he was not in the race.
Mistry said Shashi Tharoor will file his nomination papers for the Congress chief’s election on September 30 and his representative has got two more nomination forms today.
Mistry said he met party chief Sonia Gandhi at her 10 Janpath residence and handed over her QR-coded identity card for the party president’s election. He later met former prime minister Manmohan Singh and handed over identity card to him.