After Rahul Gandhi's 'One Post' Remark, Gehlot Says, 'Not Necessary I Remain CM'

While Gehlot on Wednesday had suggested that he would like to remain Rajasthan chief minister even if he becomes Congress president, after Gandhi's remarks, Gehlot has hinted that he might be willing to cede the post.

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New Delhi: ‘It is not necessary that I stay on as chief minister till the elections,’ Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot is reported to have said, hours after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that the party will stick by the ‘one person, one post’ rule decided earlier this year.

The process of nominating party leaders for the Congress president’s post will begin from September 24.

On September 20, Gehlot had hinted to Rajasthan Congress MLAs that he might contest if Rahul Gandhi does not. Sources close to Gandhi have continued to maintain that he will not be contesting the post of party president, even after Congress units in several states passed resolutions announcing their support for him to, once again, take the reins. 

A day ago, when asked about the ‘one person, one post’ policy, Gandhi said, “What we decided at Udaipur… that is a commitment of the Congress party. So I expect that commitment will be maintained,” as The Wire had reported.

Gandhi was referring to the ‘Chintan Shivir’ event the party held in Udaipur in May this year to decide its future course. During the course of the event, it was decided that any individual leader working for the party will only hold one post at a time.

Gehlot on Wednesday had said that he will contest for the post of party president if the Congress leadership asks him to do so. However, he had also said that he is fulfilling the responsibility of chief minister and that he would “continue to do so”. While this was seen as his intent to continue to hold the post of chief minister should he be elected the Congress’ national president, Gandhi’s insistence on the ‘one person, one vote’ rule highlights that this will not be allowed.

Also read: As Rahul Gandhi Bats For ‘One Person, One Post’ Norm, Cloud On Ashok Gehlot Contesting

The Rajasthan chief minister seemingly took the hint and in an interview with the Express, agreed with Gandhi, saying that a person would not be able to do the post of Congress president justice if they continued to hold another post, such as the chief ministership of a state.

When asked if he thinks he should continue as Rajasthan chief minister, Gehlot was quoted by the Express as saying, ““It is not necessary that I stay on as chief minister till the elections, remain for a month or six months, or not stay at all.”

Further, he stressed the importance of the assembly elections due in the state at the end of next year, noting that the question of chief ministership depends on the party’s exercise there. He emphasised the need to consult the state’s MLAs and ensure party unity.

Rajasthan is an important state for the Congress to maintain given that it is one of only two states in which the Congress is in power on its own, the other being Chhattisgarh.

As for Gehlot’s meeting with Gandhi, the Rajasthan chief minister said that despite his pleas to Gandhi to return to the post of party president, the latter told him that no one from the Gandhi family should become the next party chief, according to a report in NDTV.

Apart from making clear that Rahul Gandhi will not contest, the Gandhi family has desisted from backing any candidate for the post thus far.

Gehlot-Pilot rivalry

If Gehlot gives up his chief ministership, the favourite to replace him is political rival, fellow Congress leader from Rajasthan and former deputy chief minister of the state, Sachin Pilot. 

Pilot and Gehlot’s rivalry had come to a head in August, 2020, when the former had rebelled against the latter. Now, according to the Express report, Pilot’s camp wants Gehlot to give up the chief minister’s post before filing his nomination for party president because they are reportedly concerned about the influence Gehlot will be able to wield over the chief minister’s post should he become party president.

Also read: Ashok Gehlot Vs Sachin Pilot: A Timeline Of How The Rajasthan Crisis Unfolded

Pilot had met Gandhi in Kochi on Wednesday, where the Congress leaders are participating in the party’s ongoing ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’.

Some Congress leaders have noted that they are ready to support him. Rajasthan minister Rajendra Gudha on Thursday said they would not oppose it if Sachin Pilot is made the chief minister, in case Ashok Gehlot becomes the party president and quits the post. 

Gudha is one of six Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leaders who joined the Congress in 2019. While he is thought to be loyal to Gehlot (he had supported him during the rivalry with Pilot), he told reporters that he and his fellow BSP turncoats would support anyone the Congress high command deems fit for the post, according to PTI.

Nominations for the Congress’ internal election will open on September 24 and conclude on September 30. Nominations can, thereafter, be withdrawn up to October 8 and should the post be contested, elections for the same will be held October 17, with the results being announced on October 19.

(With PTI inputs)