Highlights

  • Congress moves to control Rajasthan crisis
  • Three Gehlot loyalists served showcause notice
  • 3 leaders asked to respond in 10 days

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Rajasthan crisis: Congress show cause notice to 3 Gehlot loyalists

Congress' disciplinary committee has asked - Rajasthan ministers Shanti Dhariwal and Mahesh Joshi, and Dharmendra Rathore - to explain within 10 days why action shouldn't be taken against them.

Rajasthan crisis : The Congress on Tuesday night issued show-cause notices to three Ashok Gehlot loyalists - Rajasthan ministers Shanti Dhariwal and Mahesh Joshi, and Dharmendra Rathore - for their "grave indiscipline", as the party scampered to resolve the crisis that has cast a shadow on the party chief's election.

The party's disciplinary committee has asked the three to explain within 10 days why action should not be initiated against them after the observers for Rajasthan - Mallikarjun Kharge and Ajay Maken - in their report to party chief Sonia Gandhi charged them with "gross indiscipline" but did not seek any action against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

The action came two days after 82 MLAs participated in a parallel meeting at Dhariwal's residence in Jaipur laying down conditions to the party and did not attend the official legislature party meeting convened for passing a resolution authorising the Congress chief to appoint a successor to Gehlot, who was to contest the Congress presidential election.

The disciplinary panel's member secretary Tariq Anwar in his notice to Dhariwal, Joshi and Rathore, said Maken in his report to the party chief has reported 'grave indiscipline' on their part.

"Prima facie, the above charges are an act of grave indiscipline. Therefore, this show cause notice is being issued seeking your reply within 10 days as to why disciplinary action not be taken against you as per the provisions of the constitution of the Indian National Congress," the notice to all the three leaders said.

Anwar said Dhariwal has committed grave indiscipline by hosting a parallel MLAs meeting at his residence "pressuring them not to attend the official meeting".

He also accused Joshi, the chief whip in assembly of "grave indiscipline" on two counts - of boycotting the official CLP meeting and by participating and convening parallel meeting of the MLAs.

Anwar said Rathore, who is chairman of Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation, "made all logistical arrangements and were behind the entire planning of the unofficial meeting of the MLAs, held parallel to the official Rajasthan CLP meeting" which is an act of "grave indiscipline".

With the Rajasthan episode posing a significant challenge before the party, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has initiated discussions with senior party leaders from across the country to resolve the crisis even as the fate of Ashok Gehlot who was considered frontrunner for the top party post remained uncertain.

Several names have cropped up for the probable presidential candidate including Kharge, A K Antony, Kamal Nath, Digvijaya Singh, Ambika Soni and Pawan Kumar Bansal, though most of them ruled themselves out of the race.

The name of Gehlot for the top party post is, however, not completely ruled out yet, according to informed sources.

Among various senior leaders, Gandhi is learnt to have called Congress veterans A K Antony and Sushilkumar Shinde for consultations here. There is also a likelihood that fresh observers may be sent to Rajasthan and Shinde may be one of them.

Gandhi is considering resolving the matter after consultations with top party leaders who are keeping their fingers crossed on the situation.

After the developments in Jaipur, sources said Gehlot has reached out to Sonia Gandhi and is learnt to have explained his position, while his arch-rival Sachin Pilot rushed to Delhi ahead of any decision on Rajasthan.

Gehlot is learnt to have told Gandhi that he was not behind the parallel meet of MLAs and it was organised without his knowledge.

He is also understood to have told Sonia Gandhi that he would abide by any decision taken by her and the party, the sources said.

Meanwhile, the Rajasthan chief minister also held a closed-door meeting with party MLAs in Jaipur and is learnt to have apprised them of the latest developments.

The two observers - Kharge and Maken - had to return from Jaipur on Monday without holding the CLP meeting as a large group of MLAs considered loyal to Chief Minister Gehlot refused to join it and put forth certain conditions for the selection of Gehlot's successor.

The report came a day after the observers briefed Sonia Gandhi on the Rajasthan developments and she had asked them to submit a written report.

Gehlot was considered as the favourite for the post of Congress president and had the blessings of Sonia Gandhi. The latest developments have marred his prospects for the top party position, though he is yet not out of the race.

Amid suspense over Gehlot's fate, the party's central election authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry on Tuesday said AICC treasurer Pawan Kumar Bansal has got nomination forms collected but they might be for someone else. Bansal said he was not in the race.

Mistry said Shashi Tharoor will file his nomination papers for the Congress chief's election on September 30 and his representative has got two more nomination forms today.

Mistry said he met party chief Sonia Gandhi at her 10 Janpath residence and handed over her QR-coded identity card for the party president's election. He later met former prime minister Manmohan Singh and handed over identity card to him.

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