Sonia Gandhi drives down to meet Rahul, decision on chief ministers soon

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said that party would soon decide on the chief minister of Rajasthan, where party unit chief Sachin Pilot and former chief minister Ashok Gehlot are in contention for the post.

“Consultations with with MLAs and party workers are on, you will see a chief minsiter soon,” said the Congress president , according to ANI, shortly before he headed into meetings with the front-runners for the chief minister’s job in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot have met him separately and are headed to Rajasthan where the formal announcement would be made. The second round of meetings with the two contenders, Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia for Madhya Pradesh also took place on Thursday.

Later, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi also reached Rahul Gandhi’s Tuglaq Lane house in the national capital for last-minute consultations.

Rahul Gandhi is also meeting observers appointed for Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to choose chief ministers in the states the party won in the elections, results of which were declared on Tuesday.

The Congress was one short of a clear majority in Rajasthan, winning 99 of the 199 seats for which polls were held. In Madhya Pradesh, it was two seats short of the 116 mark while in Chhattisgarh, it had bagged two-thirds majority with 68 seats.

Congress general secretary Ashok Gehlot and state party president Sachin Pilot, who are in the race for the chief minister’s post in Rajasthan, have reached Delhi for the meeting .

“Observers have taken everyone’s opinion in a peaceful way. Congress president Rahul Gandhi had to take a decision (on Rajasthan CM candidate), observers have arrived in Delhi. A discussion will be held and the decision will be taken today,” Gehlot said, according to news agency ANI.

And in Madhya Pradesh, according to the state unit media coordinator, the decision could be announced at 4 pm on Thursday at a Congress legislature party meeting in Raipur.

A meeting of the legislature party was held on Wednesday in the three states authorised Gandhi to choose the chief minister. The party said it will choose the candidates for the top job in the states after taking the opinion of each of the newly elected legislators. Gandhi, in turn, appointed AK Antony for Madhya Pradesh, Mallikarjun Kharge for Chhattisgarh and KC Venugopal for Rajasthan.

“Congress believes in the democratic process of knowing the viewpoint of each elected legislator. After consulting everybody, we’ll give a CM candidate and a government that truly reflects will of people of these three states,” party’s spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said on Wednesday.

In MP, the party faces a directional choice between the experience of two veterans and the dynamism of two young leaders in their forties.

Former Union minister and state Congress president Kamal Nath, 72, and the party’s chief whip in the Lok Sabha and campaign committee chief for the state, Jyotiraditya Scindia, 47, are the front-runners for the post in Madhya Pradesh. Both did not contest the assembly elections.

The race in Chhattisgarh is primarily between state unit chief and Patan MLA Bhupesh Baghel, party veteran TS Singh Deo, who was the leader of opposition in the former assembly, and the party’s lone Lok Sabha MP from the state, Tamradhwaj Sahu.

“The observer started the conversation, asking about the election, [the legislator’s] political background and then asked the opinion [on who should be CM]. The process took 3-4 minutes,” said a legislator who did not want to be named.

Another source in Chhattisgarh said Gandhi has personally spoken to around 20 MLAs and Kharge has met all the 68 legislators.

In MP, Nath and Scindia, along with senior leaders Digvijaya Singh, Suresh Pachauri, Vivek Tankha and Arun Yadav, met Governor Anandiben Patel to stake the party’s claim for government formation.

“Of course, it will be a privilege,” Scindia told reporters when asked whether he would be interested in taking up the post of the chief minister in MP. He said he would abide by whatever the party decided.

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