Rahul Gandhi said he sees a Congress president as an ideological post
Ashok Gehlot, a leading candidate for Congress president, today backed down on his demand for a double role shortly after Rahul Gandhi publicly shot it down, endorsing the "one person, one post" rule adopted by the party earlier this year.
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"We have made a commitment in Udaipur, I expect that the commitment will be maintained," Rahul Gandhi told reporters in Kerala on the "one person, one post" rule and whether it would apply to Ashok Gehlot.
After what is seen as a public reprimand, Ashok Gehlot conveyed that he is ready to fall in line.
The 71-year-old is the Gandhis' choice for Congress president, but he has held out so far, worrying that if elected, he will need to step down as Rajasthan Chief Minister.
In that case, Mr Gehlot's most likely replacement in Rajasthan would be his bitter rival Sachin Pilot, whose rebellion nearly brought down his government in 2020 and whose patience is stretched thin.
Mr Pilot spent the day with Rahul Gandhi yesterday, walking with him on his "Bharat Jodo Yatra" in Kerala, and flew out this morning, hours before Mr Gehlot's arrival.
Mr Gehlot said he will try "one last time" to persuade Rahul Gandhi to return as Congress president before filing his papers on Monday for the October 17 election.
But it is a lost cause; Mr Gandhi made it clear that it is a no-go. "I stand by what I said in the last press conference," he told reporters repeatedly this afternoon.
Last evening, Mr Gehlot met with interim chief Sonia Gandhi to press his case. "One person can remain a minister and also be elected Congress president. I will do anything that benefits the party, one post, two posts or three posts, I won't back down," he said before the meeting.
After his meeting with Sonia Gandhi, senior leader KC Venugopal said on the "one man one post" rule: "It will be applicable depending on who contests and wins." But Rahul Gandhi's stern message leaves no room for doubt.
Asked what he would tell the next party chief, Mr Gandhi said: "My advice would be whoever becomes Congress president should remember he represents a set of ideas, a belief system, the vision of India."