NEW DELHI: The Congress on Tuesday continued to grapple with the political crisis in Rajasthan after party observers termed as "indiscipline" the action of 92 MLAs in the state the attempt to set conditions for the appointment of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's successor.
The two observers Mallikarjun Kharge and Ajay Maken are preparing a written report on the developments in Rajasthan and are likely to submit it by the evening.
All eyes will be on Sonia Gandhi to see what action she recommends after getting the written report.
Congress treasurer Pawan Kumar Bansal and MP Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday collected nomination forms for the Congress president's polls, even as Gehlot and his loyalists are considering their next political move.
Gehlot's loyalists were slammed by the party high command Monday for their revolt.
Gehlot loyalists had submitted resignation letters to Assembly Speaker CP Joshi on Sunday evening, in an apparent bid to put pressure on the central leadership to pick someone from the Gehlot camp as CM if the veteran leader is elected the party president. The loyalist MLAs indicated that they were against the appointment of Sachin Pilot, who led a rebellion against Gehlot in 2020, to the post.
The question now is --- will Gehlot now try to save his Chief Minister's chair after clear signals were sent from the high command stating that strict action would be initiated against Gehlot and his loyalists for "indiscipline?" Or would he still run for the Congress president's post?
Gehlot camp has clearly stated that in the current circumstances --- after the two observers deputed by the high command to Rajasthan expressed displeasure against the Gehlot camp and left for Delhi --- Gehlot himself is not keen to contest the election of the party president now and nor do his supporters want him to do so.
His camp feels that Gehlot's image is being tarnished deliberately.
Our correspondent in Rajasthan reports that all eyes are on what possible action Congress' high command will initiate against two Gehlot loyalists --- Rajasthan cabinet minister Shanti Dhariwal and Speaker CP Joshi --- or even, Gehlot, for "indiscipline."
The high command has already expressed its displeasure over the outburst of the two legislators against its deputed observers Mallikarjun Kharge and Ajay Maken.
The Gehlot camp's anger appears to be aggravated by Rahul Gandhi's "one party, one post" diktat ahead of the Congress presidential polls, and, secondly, for sending observers to Rajasthan.
Before taking any strict action against the Gehlot camp, Congress high command must be weighing the fact that unlike Amarinder in Punjab, Gehlot is much stronger on the ground and the numbers are in favour of him. Gehlot has the support of over 80 MLAs. Also with him are 13 Independent MLAs.
Two years ago when Sachin Pilot rebelled against the Gehlot government, he had the support of just 18 MLAs, and yet the government was in trouble.
Meanwhile, reports quoting sources say that the decision on the Rajasthan CM’s position will be likely taken after the Congress Presidential elections next month.
Names of senior party leaders Kharge, Kamal Nath, Digvijaya Singh, Sushilkumar Shinde, Mukul Wasnik and Kumari Selja are now also doing the rounds for the post, as reported by PTI.
IANS news agency quoting sources in Congress reported that Rahul Gandhi's choice is said to be K.C. Venugopal.
However, no final decision has been made yet.
Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath, who met Sonia Gandhi on Monday, said that he did not want to become the party president and wanted to continue to work for the party in Madhya Pradesh.
"I want to remain in MP," Kamal Nath, a former Chief Minister of the state, told IANS.
The political drama in Rajasthan has made the Congress leadership think about a plan B for the top party post. Time is running out as the election process has started and September 30 is the last day of nomination.
(With inputs from Rajesh Asnani, PTI, and IANS)