A day after announcing that he will run for president of Congress, Digvijaya Singh today announced that he will stand down. That decision is based on the presentation of Mallikarjun Kharge as the candidate endorsed by the Gandhi.
“Kharge ji is my leader and my superior. Yesterday I asked him if he wants to compete. He said no. I met him again today. I told him that I am completely with you if you are competing. I can’t think of competing.” against him. He is submitting his nomination and I will be his nominee,” Digvijaya Singh, 75, said.
Digvijaya Singh did not know Sonia Gandhi, the current head of Congress, before announcing his decision to run for her post. That was not a slight or an act of defiance, à la Ashok Gehlot. Instead, the sources explained, Digvijaya Singh was aware all along that his role was to serve as a “dummy candidate” until the Gandhi decided on her choice.
His initial vote was for Ashok Gehlot, the Chief Minister of Rajasthan. But the proposal – Mr. Gehlot was urged on multiple occasions to contest the election, including by Sonia Gandhi – blew up when Mr. Gehlot was told categorically that if he served as president, he would have to resign his job as prime minister of Rajasthan. . For the Gandhis, this was a quick fix to a long-standing problem in the desert state: Sachin Pilot, 45, is owed a chance as prime minister, which was promised to him when the party won the state in 2018. By moving Ashok Gehlot to Delhi, the Gandhis would have a trusted aide as party chief and install Sachin Pilot as head of the Rajasthan government. Two birds with one stone.
Except Ashok Gehlot refused to play ball. So, in Jaipur, 92 MLAs threatened to resign in a show of support for him. His condition was clear: under no circumstances could Sachin Pilot be appointed Chief Minister. Ashok Gehlot wanted to choose his replacement and there was no way Sachin Pilot was on the long list.
The Gandhis faced a double blow: a public revolt from a trusted and high-ranking loyalist and the prospect of an unstable government in one of the few states still ruled by Congress.
Last night, Ashok Gehlot met with Sonia Gandhi and left repentant. He said that he had apologized to her, taking ‘moral responsibility’ for the ‘indiscipline’ of the Congress MLAs in Rajasthan, that he would not run for president and that only Sonia Gandhi would decide whether to continue as chief minister. The comments provided a lifeline to the “High Command”.
Today, Ashok Gehlot reiterated his devotion to the central leadership of the Congress and said he would be among those proposing Mallikarjun Kharge’s name for president. More balm to ease the slow burning inflicted by him.
Shashi Tharoor, undeterred by the fact that his opponent has the backing of the only section of the party that matters, submitted his nomination today, making his candidacy official. It’s an important symbolic move to push Congress to exercise choice, rather than take orders.
However, it is understood that taking orders will be the responsibility of Mallikarjun Kharge, who is almost certain to be chosen. A Gandhian “parallel center of power” will take the reins, sources said, and thwart what Shashi Tharoor has sought: transparency in operations that allows for a range of voices. For Congress, this is not one step forward, many steps back.
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