Gehlot vs Pilot: With Kharge still ‘silent’, Ajay Maken quits as incharge of Rajasthan Congress | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader Ajay Maken has quit as party incharge of Rajasthan. He is apparently upset over the reluctance of Congress leadership to act against chief minister Ashok Gehlot’s loyalists, who had rebelled openly in September over talks of leadership change in the state.
According to sources, Maken in a letter to party president Mallikarjun Kharge on November 8, cited the developments of September 25, when a section of Rajasthan MLAs scuttled a meeting of the legislative party called by him, and asked the Congress president to appoint someone else in place of him.
The development comes ahead of the Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi entering Rajasthan in the first week of December.
In his letter, Maken said it was “imperative to have a new incharge as soon as possible” as the Bharat Jodo Yatra is coming to Rajasthan early next month and there is a bypoll on December 4.
Maken, meanwhile, has made it clear that he is not quitting the party.
“Wedded to the ideology of Congress for the last three generations and being in active Congress politics for over 40 years, I will always remain an ardent follower of Rahul Ji, whom I trust and have faith in beyond words,” Maken stated.
Maken and Mallikarjun Kharge were deputed as central observers to oversee a smooth leadership transition in Rajasthan – which would have seen Gehlot taking over as the party president and his arch rival from the state Sachin Pilot being elevated as the chief minister.
This would have resolved the leadership crisis in the state.
However, nearly 90 MLAs close to Gehlot rebelled and scuttled the proposed plan. Later, Ashok Gehlot apologised to Sonia Gandhi and said he will not run for Congress president, taking “moral responsibility” for the Rajasthan revolt.
The Congress had issued show-cause notices to three senior party MLAs (Dharmendra Rathore, Shanti Dhariwal and Mahesh Joshi). The party had then announced that action would be taken against MLAs who had gone against the party line.
In fact, Congress general secretary KC Venugopal had even said that Sonia Gandhi will decide on Rajasthan chief minister’s post within a day or two.
However, nearly two months later, the Congress is completely silent on the issue and is yet to take any action against anyone.
Kharge, who is now the Congress president, has not taken any steps to resolve the simmering leadership crisis in the state.
This despite the fact that Sachin Pilot, who is keen to lead the Congress in the assembly elections next year, recently raised the pitch against Gehlot loyalists demanding action against the MLAs who were show-caused for the September incident.
“The Congress leadership should now take a decision on it expeditiously. It is important whoever is guilty, rules and discipline are applicable to all equally. Hope that the new Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge would take a decision soon,” Pilot had then said.
The former deputy chief minister of the state, who led an unsuccessful rebellion against Gehlot, two years ago, also asked the party to end the indecision on the leadership issue in the state.
The Congress faces a tough challenge in trying to strike a balance between the two party heavyweights in the state. Gehlot seems to be adamant not to pass on the state leadership to his former deputy and has the backing of a majority of the party MLAs.
Pilot, on the other hand, may not be ready to play the waiting game any more. However, the road ahead may not be easy for him as the young leader has the backing of only 20 odd MLAs.
The developments in Rajasthan expose the helplessness of the Congress in dealing with the crisis in a state that goes to polls next year. With Gehlot unrelenting and Pilot adamant, it will be a challenge for Kharge to please both the leaders. At some point, the grand old party will have to choose one over the other. The sooner they do it, the better it may be for the party’s prospects in the tough electoral battle that lies ahead.

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