Gehlot for Congress President? ‘Rahul Gandhi… Till the Last Moment’, Pat Comes Rajasthan CM’s Reply

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Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Wednesday tried to downplay the buzz around him becoming the new Congress chief, as the grand old party looks all set to hold elections to choose its president by September 20. Asked if interim president Sonia Gandhi had asked him to take up the mantle, the veteran leader said the party will try its best to elect senior leader Rahul Gandhi as president “till the last moment”.

Gehlot said at the moment he was concentrating on two responsibilities: senior observer for the upcoming Gujarat assembly polls and CM of Rajasthan. At the same time, he said nobody knew as to what will be decided in the coming days, but the party will use “all means” to make Rahul the president as it should be because “if he does not become the president, the workers will get demotivated and sit at home.”

“I am election observer in Gujarat and Rajasthan CM: these are the two responsibilities given to me by the party high command and, as of now, I am trying to fulfil these,” Gehlot told mediapersons, who asked him about his meeting with Sonia that led to speculation that there may have been a discussion on the possibility of him being the next party president.

“Sonia (Gandhi) ji has gone abroad for a checkup. (KC) Venugopal ji and I paid a courtesy call on her yesterday when we were going to Gujarat,” Gehlot said, adding, “this has been doing the rounds in the media for a long time. You keep talking about it. Nobody knows what is going to be decided.”

“Has anybody briefed you at AICC, no one has done that. Media keeps on speculating Till a decision is made, neither you nor I can comment on it,” Gehlot said.

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He further said there was no anti-incumbency in Rajasthan as the Congress-led state government had implemented numerous schemes that had benefited people. But, his efforts were always directed at ensuring the Congress is voted to power once again in the state.

Earlier, too, Gehlot has dismissed the rumours about him as the next Congress president, emphasising that the party was “unanimous” in its choice for Rahul. He has denied knowledge of the matter, saying he had only heard talk about the party presidency from the media.

While several senior Congress leaders have publicly promoted Rahul’s name for the presidency, there is still uncertainty and suspense over the issue. Party insiders said Rahul was persisting in his stand that he will not be president.

The Gandhi family scion had resigned from the post after the party’s second consecutive defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. After an open revolt by the G23 two years ago, Sonia had also offered to quit G-23 but the Congress Working Committee had urged her to continue.

Besides Gehlot, other non-Gandhi names doing the rounds for the post of Congress president happen to be that of Kamal Nath, KC Venugopal, Meira Kumar and Kumari Selja.

The CWC, the party’s highest decision-making body, will hold a virtual meeting on August 28 to approve the dates for the party’s presidential elections. Sonia will preside over the meeting.

(With PTI inputs)

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