Mallikarjun Kharge took over as the Congress president on October 26 in the presence of outgoing interim president Sonia Gandhi. In his first decision he had replaced the Congress Working Committee with a 47-member steering committee.
The new Congress president has to resolve the ongoing tussle in Rajasthan and settle the issue of Chief Minister in Chhattisgarh. On Thursday, sources said, former Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot had met him and held a long discussion on the CM issue but there is no forward movement yet.
Similarly in Chhattisgarh T.S. Singh Deo wants that the commitment to make him chief minister should be honoured. However, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has indicated that Kharge will take the final call. He has not met any senior leader officially after taking over, sources said.
Both Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot are asserting themselves — the former to retain the post and the latter to succeed him, but Pilot is silent and Gehlot is more vocal, unlike the Congress culture.
Mallikarjun Kharge was the senior observer for Rajasthan when a section of MLAs engaged in a virtual rebellion by boycotting the Congress Legislature Party meeting. However the main actors in the drama, Mahesh Joshi and Shanti Dhariwal, had met Kharge and now sources say that Gehlot has been successful in pacifying Kharge. However, state in-charge Ajay Maken is upset over the state of affairs and is said to be keen on calling a meeting of the MLAs again. There is no indication of it yet as on October 31 Gehlot will be in Palanpur to join the Gujarat Bharat Jodo Yatra starting from five points.
The Gandhis were upset with the revolt-like situation but Gehlot came and apologised to Sonia Gandhi and it was decided that the issue of leadership would be kept in abeyance till the new party president is elected.
Many MLAs boycotted the CLP meeting called by the high command at the Chief Minister’s residence on September 25. The Congress Disciplinary Committee soon after issued notices to state ministers Shanti Dhariwal and Mahesh Joshi and RTDC president Dharmendra Rathod for boycotting the meeting.
The other challenge for the party will be to conduct elections for the Congress Working Committee, the party’s highest decision-making forum.
The CWC has 25 members, including the party president, and of the rest 12 are nominated by the party chief and 12 are elected by the All India Congress Committee members.
Party sources say that an AICC session could be called soon and Kharge will decide on the CWC election. The election is the demand of the dissidents which may see hectic lobbying in the AICC session as it will decide the control of the party. If opposing members are elected then the CWC meetigs will be stormy affairs each time.