Rajasthan Congress No. 2 Sachin Pilot is busy lobbying with MLAs loyal to No. 1 Ashok Gehlot who is leading the race for the post of president of the party and quitting as chief minister, said top INC sources today. On his return from Delhi today, Pilot headed straight to Speaker CP Joshi.
The meeting between Sachin Pilot and CP Joshi lasted for about one and a half hours, said a source in the INC. After the meeting, Pilot slipped out, evading the reporters gathered outside.
Pilot met with Congress MLAs too, according to informed sources who said Joshi was leading the race for the chief minister's chair while the No. 2 can become No. 1 of sorts by becoming president of Rajasthan Congress.
Meanwhile, Minister Pratap Singh Khachariawa, loyal to Ashok Gehlot, said any decision of the party high command would be acceptable to all party leaders and workers without ifs and buts. He said, “This is not a matter of discussion; Congress should be strong in the country.”
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has admitted that he is almost certain to contest the election for INC president while Sachin Pilot is engaged in cultivating MLAs of the rival faction. Pilot exuded confidence in the way he carried himself today, having received a favourable hearing from the high command, a top party source told Sirf News.
Ashok Gehlot was, until yesterday, keen to retain the chief minister's post, as he knew too well that despite his elevation to the top post in the party would make him no better than a figurehead while Rahul Gandhi’s coterie would continue to run the show. The chief minister mobilised party workers to clamour for the dynast's return at the helm while repeating ad nauseam that he could handle more than a post simultaneously but to no avail.
Ashok Gehlot has been a Sonia Gandhi loyalist through thick and thin even in the period when PV Narasimha Rao was the prime minister and also while Sitaram Kesri was the INC president. While he knows he will be "remote-controlled" by Rahul Gandhi even though he is a seasoned politician unlike former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said a senior party leader under the condition of anonymity, Sonia Gandhi could trust no one else who would dare not become larger than the party high command and he was forced to accept the 'proposal' of contesting the poll for Congress presidency.