As more than 90 Rajasthan Congress MLAs refused to meet central leaders this morning in a huge show of defiance against the Gandhis, the party called it “indiscipline” by the MLAs. The Congress may act against MLAs who organised the revolt in support of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
“It is indiscipline,” said Ajay Maken, one of the two Congress leaders tasked by Sonia Gandhi to speak to each MLA for feedback.
Rajasthan Congress MLAs loyal to Ashok Gehlot have threatened to resign over reports that he will be replaced by rival Sachin Pilot as Chief Minister when he moves on to the role of Congress president.
In their first act of defiance, the MLAs skipped a meeting called by the central leaders last evening for a formal announcement on Mr Gehlot running for Congress president and a new Chief Minister.
The MLAs held a separate meeting, after which they threatened mass resignation.
Sources say the Congress Chief Whip, Mahesh Joshi, personally called MLAs and told them the meeting venue had shifted to the home of Shanti Dhariwal, a senior state minister. Mr Joshi and Mr Dhariwal face action for “misleading” the MLAs.
This morning, the MLAs refused to meet the two central observers, Mr Maken and Mallikarjun Kharge, who then headed back to Delhi without a resolution.
“Mallikarjun Kharge and I came as observers. We decided on a meeting at the Chief Minister's house at his convenience last evening. But a parallel meeting was held by the MLAs,” Mr Maken said.
“We wanted to listen to everyone one-to-one. But three MLAs came to us and kept three conditions,” he said.
The MLAs told the leaders that any meeting on a new Chief Minister should be held only after October 19, when the Congress president election results are declared.
“It would be conflict of interest as the resolution on a new Rajasthan Chief Minister would be passed when Ashok Gehlot may already be party chief, and so, he empowers himself to decide on his own successor in Rajasthan,” Mr Maken explained.
The MLAs also insisted that they would come in groups instead of one-on-one meetings. “We said we have a tradition of meeting one on one so that we can talk freely and frankly. But they said no,” said the Congress leader.
The MLAs are also insistent that the next Chief Minister should be chosen from among the 102 legislators who helped save the government when Sachin Pilot revolted in 2020 against Mr Gehlot.
“We said we will convey your feelings to Sonia Gandhi and she will decide on a way out. But they insisted that their three conditions should be part of any resolution we pass. But we told them, in the history of Congress, there has never been any conditional resolution. There is always a one-line resolution handed to Sonia Gandhi and then decisions are taken,” Mr Maken said.