Ashok Gehlot May Meet Sonia Gandhi Today After Jaipur Revolt

 Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is likely to arrive in Delhi around 2 pm for his meeting with Sonia Gandhi.

New Delhi: Ashok Gehlot is likely to meet with Congress president Sonia Gandhi this afternoon after a rebellion by his loyalists in Rajasthan, in the build-up to the party president election, upset the leadership.
The Rajasthan Chief Minister is likely to arrive in Delhi around 2 pm for his meeting with Sonia Gandhi.

This comes a day after the party issued notice to three of his loyalists for organizing a revolt by more than 90 Rajasthan MLA. Rajasthan ministers Shanti Dhariwal and Mahesh Joshi, and Dharmendra Rathore, were asked to explain their act of "grave indiscipline" within 10 days.

The MLAs had on Sunday threatened mass resignation over reports that Ashok Gehlot, who may run for Congress president, would be replaced as Chief Minister of Rajasthan by his rival Sachin Pilot.

The rebellion embarrassed the Congress and, according to reports, dismayed the Gandhis. There was also strong speculation that Ashok Gehlot, the choice of the Gandhis for the Congress top job, is out of the race.

But top party sources said Ashok Gehlot, 71, is "still in contention for the post of Congress president and not ruled out".

Last evening, Congress leaders Ambika Soni and Anand Sharma, after a meeting with Sonia Gandhi, spoke with Ashok Gehlot to "resolve the crisis that has been created".

At the core of the crisis is Mr Gehlot's refusal to give up the post of Rajasthan Chief Minister. Mr Gehlot had agreed to quit as Chief Minister after Rahul Gandhi made it clear that he would not be allowed a double role, in line with the Congress's "one person, one post" policy.

The transition in Rajasthan was to be formally announced at a meeting of MLAs at Mr Gehlot's home on Sunday. Only about 25 of 107 Congress MLAs showed up, including Sachin Pilot. Most MLAs attended a parallel meeting called by Mr Gehlot's loyalists.

The MLAs openly defied the Gandhis and laid out conditions that included choosing a new Chief Minister only after the Congress president election. If Mr Gehlot becomes Congress chief, that will constitute conflict of interest as he will have empowered himself to pick his own successor in Rajasthan.

Mr Gehlot denied any part in the revolt, citing his visit to a shrine near the India-Pakistan border that morning where there was no phone reception. "Nothing is in my hands. The MLAs are angry," he told the central leadership.

Mr Gehlot also apologised but the Congress leadership was said to have taken a "serious view" of indiscipline by one of its senior most leaders.

Sachin Pilot, whose supporters are far outnumbered by Mr Gehlot's, is in Delhi.

The Congress is prepping for its first non Gandhi president after more than two decades. All three Gandhis will stay out of the October 17 election. So far, two Congress leaders, Sachin Pilot and Pawan Bansal, have called for the nomination papers; Pawan Bansal says he hasn't taken the papers for himself.

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