The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rajasthan ball in Sonia court
Sonia Gandhi

Jaipur, Dec.14: With the newly-elected Congress legislators and MPs of Rajasthan divided over who should be the leader of the legislative wing, the matter has been referred to party president Sonia Gandhi.

The MLAs held a meeting — attended by general secretary in-charge Ambika Soni and treasurer Motilal Vora — at the state headquarters of the party today.

Earlier, in New Delhi, the two leaders had met members of Parliament from the party and senior Congress members and found that most of them were in favour of a drastic change in the Rajasthan leadership in view of the forthcoming elections to the Lok Sabha.

It was evident that the majority of the parliamentarians held former chief minister Ashok Gehlot’s style of functioning responsible for the humiliating drubbing the party had received in the just-concluded elections to the Assembly.

Jat leaders in the Congress have been mounting pressure on the party leadership to give them their “due” share in the organisational set-up, the denial of which, they say, alienated the community from the party to a large extent during the Assembly polls.

The one-sentence resolution on letting the Congress president take a decision was adopted “unanimously” at today’s meeting. However, both Soni and Vora were told in no uncertain terms that the high command should give a serious thought to its love for blue-eyed boy Gehlot, who has been allowed to enjoy monopoly over party affairs and decision-making processes in the state unit.

Even after the resolution was adopted, the two central observers, till late in the evening, were busy meeting party legislators individually at 8 Civil Lines, the official residence of the chief minister that Gehlot has not yet vacated.

A joint news conference that Soni and Vora were scheduled to address at the party office at 4 pm was cancelled indefinitely. However, before leaving for Civil Lines, they informed party leaders about the resolution.

While the legislature party meeting was on, Congress MP Col. Sona Ram and MLA Bhanwar Lal Sharma told reporters that they were opposed to Gehlot continuing at the helm.

Ram said either the post of the legislature party leader or that of the state Congress chief should go to a Jat.

But the Congress legislator quipped: “Poora parivartan samay ki mang hai (A total change is the need of the hour).”

A party source hinted that the Congress high command was toying with the idea of appointing party veteran Ram Niwas Mirdha, a Jat, as the state party chief and continuing with Gehlot as the legislature party leader.

The Congress president’s decision is expected soon.

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