Three Ashok Gehlot loyalists faced the axe on Tuesday with the Congress serving them show-cause notice for “grave indiscipline” – two days after they participated in a parallel meeting laying down conditions to the party and skipping the scheduled legislature party meeting.
Rajasthan ministers – Shanti Dhariwal and Mahesh Joshi, and Dharmendra Rathore – have been asked to reply to the show-cause notice within 10 days as the Congress looks to tide over the crisis that has cast a shadow on the party president’s election scheduled in October.
The party’s observers for Rajasthan – Mallikarjun Kharge and Ajay Maken – however, did not name Gehlot in the report submitted to interim president Sonia Gandhi. It is not clear if Gehlot is still in the race to contest the presidential polls.
The disciplinary action against the three MLAs came two days after around 92 legislators from the Gehlot camp attended the parallel meeting hosted by Dhariwal at his residence in Jaipur and skipped the legislature party meeting convened for passing a resolution authorising the Congress chief to appoint a successor to Gehlot, who announced to contest for the Congress presidential election.
The MLAs had opposed Gehlot’s arch-rival Sachin Pilot’s possible elevation to the CM post and demanded that Gehlot’s successor should be chosen from his camp. They also mentioned Pilot’s 2020 rebellion, saying the party must reward those who stood by it during that crisis.
In the show-cause notice, Congress’ disciplinary panel member secretary Tariq Anwar stated, “Prima facie, the above charges are an act of grave indiscipline. Therefore, this show cause notice is being issued seeking your reply within 10 days as to why disciplinary action not be taken against you as per the provisions of the constitution of the Indian National Congress.”
The fresh crisis in Rajasthan prompted Sonia Gandhi to initiate discussions with senior party leaders from across the country to fix the situation. Several names have cropped up for the probable presidential candidate, including Kharge, A K Antony, Kamal Nath, Digvijaya Singh, Ambika Soni and Pawan Kumar Bansal, though most of them have ruled themselves out of the race.
Meanwhile, Gehlot, sources said, reached out to Gandhi to explain his position. The chief minister is learnt to have told Gandhi that he was not behind the parallel meet of MLAs and it was organised without his knowledge. He is also understood to have told Sonia Gandhi that he would abide by any decision taken by her and the party, the sources said.
Gehlot also held a closed-door meeting with party MLAs this evening in Jaipur and is learnt to have apprised them of all the latest developments.
The Rajasthan CM, who was considered the front-runner for the post of Congress president, seems to have now been pushed to the margins as the revolt by his MLAs didn’t go down well with Sonia Gandhi. News18 reported on Monday how Gandhi expressed her displeasure and anger over the revolt and asked “How could he do this?”
Sources had said the top party leadership is now not keen to have Gehlot file his nomination papers for the party president polls. Even if Gehlot wants to do it, many have made up their mind not to vote for him, they added.
With inputs from News18, PTI