Following Gandhi’s comment, Gehlot did a U-turn and said there was no precedent of a Congress president holding the CM’s post simultaneously and he would not try to do it either if he becomes the Congress president. Gehlot‘s comments to the media, after meeting Gandhi in Kochi on Thursday night, prompted Congress circles to conclude that the Rajasthan veteran had found Gandhi unwavering in his stand during their meeting.
To a specific media query on one-man-one post, Gandhi said, “what we decided in Udaipur is a commitment of the Congress party. I expect that commitment will be maintained.”
After meeting Gandhi, Gehlot told the media in Kochi: “There is no precedent of a Congress president holding the post of the CM. If I get a chance to become the Congress president, I will then do the job of the Congress president.” Congress circles also claimed Sonia Gandhi had conveyed her displeasure to Gehlot for his two-post theory, when they met on Wednesday
Party circles said that since the Gehlot camp claimed that his assertion that the one-post norm would not apply to an elected Congress president had reassured Rajasthan Congress MLAs that he was in total control, Gehlot’s U-turn, by the same logic, would make the legislators read the opposite message. This may mean if Gehlot becomes party chief, the chief ministerial race in Rajasthan could turn into a race between the CM’s loyalist BK Kalla/PC Joshi and challenger Sachin Pilot.
Even before leaving for Kochi from Mumbai, Gehlot had indicated his changed stance. “Whosever becomes the Congress president will have to think how one could justify continuing in two posts. Holding two posts cannot do justice to the post of the Congress president,” he told a news channel. How the Rajasthan government can be run, and led, if he shifts to Delhi can be decided by “taking views of party MLAs and keeping in mind how to win the next elections in Rajasthan,” he said.
Gehlot’s in-house competitors feel he should quit as the CM ‘before filing his nomination’ for the Congress president’s election, failing which they fear he would ‘manoeuvre more effectively’ from a vantage position, if he becomes the new high command. Gehlot’s camp had been hinting that even if he becomes the Congress president, he may like to present the election-year Rajasthan budget in February as the CM who holds the FM’s post. It remains to be seen whether he could now stand by that plan if he becomes the party chief.