Rahul Gandhi to decide on Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh CMs today

Last Updated: Fri, Dec 14, 2018 08:46 hrs
Sachin Pilot (PTI photo)

New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi has deferred the decisions on chief ministers of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh for Friday as he wants to hold further discussions with party leaders, Congress sources said, even as one of the top contenders for the desert state, Sachin Pilot, met the party chief for a second time late on Thursday night.

Gandhi held discussions with party leaders in Chhattisgarh on Thursday to decide on the new chief minister for the state, the party sources said, but postponed the decision to Friday for holding wider discussions with the contenders.

The Congress chief had earlier held a series of meetings with CM aspirants in Rajasthan -- Ashok Gehlot and Pilot -- but no consensus emerged between the two and Pilot asserted his right for the top post.

Pilot's supporters also shouted slogans in his favour outside Gandhi's residence in New Delhi.

While Gehlot is learnt to be leading the race for chief minister's post, Pilot is also putting up stiff resistance and is staking his claim.

Pilot visited Gandhi's residence again late in night amid speculation on whether the race was still open and could go down to the wire.

Pilot and Gehlot both appealed to party workers to maintain peace and discipline, saying they have full faith in the party leadership and would abide by its final decision.

Pilot supporters burnt tyres and blocked roads in Rajasthan on Thursday, demanding his appointment as the next chief minister.

Groups of people tried to stop traffic at places in Dausa, Ajmer and Karauli districts, police said.

Protesters blocked the Jaipur-Agra highway at Dausa for some time, burning old tyres. There was a similar disruption on the Jaipur-Ajmer highway, and attempts to block traffic on other roads.

In most cases, the protesters were from Pilot's Gujjar community, police said.

The protests prompted Pilot to issue an appeal on Twitter, asking people to remain calm.

Soon after Pilot's appeal, Gehlot too urged party workers to maintain calm while playing down reports of infighting among Rajasthan Congress leaders.

"I appeal to workers to maintain peace. Today, the party needs its workers. The Congress president has already credited the workers for their hard work in ensuring the party's victory in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh," he told reporters in New Delhi.

In Karauli, about 25 youths burnt tyres on the road, police said.

In Dausa, some people gathered at the Jaipur-Agra highway near Patoli for about 30 minutes before being dispersed, police said.

Some people also gathered at the Jaipur-Ajmer highway near Ghooghra in Ajmer and burnt tyres," Special DG (Law and Order) N R K Reddy told PTI.

The blockage was cleared by the police, he said.

"Similar demonstrations were held in Karauli's Hindaun in the evening but the police controlled the situation quickly," he said.

Six people climbed atop an overhead water tank in Bandikui in Dausa but were later persuaded to come down, he added.

Bharatpur Inspector General of Police Malini Agrawal said people gathered at Hindaun and nearby areas and were later dispersed.

She said there was no violence and the situation there was back to normal.

"We want Sachin Pilot as the next chief minister of Rajasthan. The party high command should declare his name as soon as possible,” Sugar Singh, state secretary of Akhil Bhartiya Yuva Gurjar Mahasabha, said.

"Our members were peaceful at the demonstrations, which were held in Gurjar-dominated areas in eastern Rajasthan," he said.

The party president also met the central observer for the state K C Venugopal and the All India Congress Committee state in-charge Avinash Pande for the second time.

Gandhi held a late evening meeting with party's central observer Mallikarjun Kharge, who said that further deliberations will take place on Friday with state leaders before arriving at a final decision on chief minister.

AICC in-charge of party affairs in Chhattisgarh P L Punia was also present during the meeting with Gandhi.

"The meeting has been postponed for tomorrow (Friday). There will be a meeting again tomorrow," Kharge told reporters after meeting Gandhi.

The sources said T S Singh Deo and Bhupesh Baghel have also been called to the national capital from Raipur for discussions with top party leaders.



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