Congress is considering a new formula to keep cohesion in the party and has decided on not fielding any senior leader from the party including state presidents in upcoming assembly elections. Instead of contesting these leaders will concentrate on campaigning across their states. Some of the leaders from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan may be asked to skip contesting the election.
MP state unit president Kamal Nath, Guna MP Jyotiraditya Scindia, Rajasthan state unit president Sachin Pilot, and Rajasthan Congress seniors Ashok Gehlot and C P Joshi will be asked to drop the assembly elections in their states. With this move the Congress would be able to keep the question of projecting a chief ministerial face at bay and also will be able to avoid any differences that may arise due to it.
A senior leader was quoted by ET as saying, “The idea could be implemented across the three states so that these senior leaders are not tied down to their specific constituencies and instead campaign across the state”. “This is especially true for Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, which have 200 plus seats.” The final call would be taken by Congress president Rahul Gandhi”, he added. With this move, Congress would hope to postpone the leadership question and exhort all party workers to fight to win.
In Rajasthan, the binary is Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot. While former chief minister Ashok Gehlot is increasingly being involved in All India Congress Committee (AICC) matters by Gandhi, he has still a grip in the state unit and sitting MLAs. On the other hand, the young gun Pilot is being credited for Congress’ resurrection in Rajasthan after the humiliating defeat in 2013 assembly elections under Gehlot’s leadership. Amongst all the party big leaders, Gehlot is the only one who is a sitting MLA (from Sardarpura).
In Madhya Pradesh, both Scindia and Nath are sitting MPs. “Asking them to contest assembly elections would not be a practical question before the party unless a policy decision is taken to make all party seniors contest,” said the party leader quoted above. Another party official told ET, “It would not be the first time that party seniors would not contest assembly elections. The first time Ashok Gehlot became chief minister in 1998; he was an MP and was sent by the party high command as chief minister”.
In 2012 too, Vijay Bahuguna, an MP, did not contest the Uttarakhand assembly election and was sent as chief minister. Later, he had contested and won a by-election. However, in 2015, the then Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had called all former party MPs to contest assembly elections.
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