Jaipur: MLAs loyal to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot rebelled on Sunday against the Congress high command over the possibility of Sachin Pilot becoming the next CM, once the veteran leader is elected as the party's national president.
These are the key players in the Rajasthan drama.
Rajasthan's chief minister for the third time, Ashok Gehlot was tipped to become the national president of the Congress. He tussled with Sachin Pilot over the CM's post after the Congress came to power in the state in December 2018. Gehlot succeeded in saving his government in 2020 when Pilot, who was his deputy then, rebelled against him.
Sachin Pilot was considered the frontrunner for the CM post if Ashok Gehlot resigned after being elected as the Congress national president. Pilot was the state Congress chief when the party was in opposition. When Congress won the assembly elections in December 2018, Pilot staked claim to the CM's post. But he had to settle for the deputy CM's job. He was sacked as the deputy CM and the PCC president for leading a rebellion against Gehlot in 2020.
C P Joshi
Rajasthan Assembly Speaker C P Joshi too was in the race for the CM's post and said to be Gehlot's first choice if he has to quit as chief minister. Gehlot loyalists gathered at his home on Sunday to submit their resignation letters, in a bid to put pressure on the party's central leadership. Joshi has been an AICC general secretary and a Union minister as well.
Ajay Maken and Mallikarjun Kharge
AICC general secretary in charge of Rajasthan Ajay Maken and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge were sent to Jaipur by the party high command to talk to MLAs and get them to pass a resolution at a Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meet, authorising party president Sonia Gandhi to pick a successor to Gehlot.
A staunch supporter of Ashok Gehlot, Shanti Dhariwal is the state's minister for Urban Development and Housing and Parliamentary Affairs. He convened a meeting of Gehlot loyalists at his home on Sunday, putting up a show of strength for the CM ahead of the CLP meet.
Pratap Singh Khachariyawas
Another minister in the Gehlot government, Pratap Singh Khachariyawas has openly supported the CM and insisted that he should not be replaced. Before the 2018 assembly elections, he was considered close to Sachin Pilot. But during the 2020 crisis, Khachariyawas strongly backed Gehlot.
Govind Singh Dotasra
A Jat leader and Rajasthan Pradesh Congress chief, Govind Singh Dotasra often accompanies Gehlot on his trips in the state. He is considered to be a candidate for the deputy chief minister's post.
Sanyam Lodha won the 2018 assembly election as an independent candidate after being denied the party ticket. He was the first to warn the Congress leadership on Sunday that if anyone from the Pilot camp is made the CM, it will threaten the state government's stability.
Mahesh Joshi and Mahendra Chaudhary
Public Health Engineering Department Minister and the Congress chief whip Mahesh Joshi and deputy chief whip Mahendra Chaudhary are said to have coordinated with loyalist MLAs, asking them to reach Dhariwal's place on Sunday evening.
One of the six BSP-turned-Congress MLAs and a minister, Rajendra Gudha was said to be in the Gehlot camp earlier. But when Gehlot appeared set to contest the party president's election, he seemed to switch sides.
Babu Lal Nagar
Independent MLA Babu Lal Nagar was with Gehlot during the 2020 crisis but has now praised Pilot. Still, he was with the Gehlot loyalists on Sunday.
A minister in the Gehlot government, Subhash Garg is the only Rashtriya Lok Dal MLA in the state. He is a Gehlot loyalist and key leader involved in Sunday's show of strength in Jaipur.
Rajasthan's Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) chairman Dharmendra Rathore is close to Gehlot and is said to have played an important role in Sunday's developments.