India: Rahul Gandhi to pick CMs for MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh

  • The suspense over who will be the chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh was prolonged with the Congress legislators in the three states going through the ritual of authorising party president Rahul Gandhi to take the final call.
  • During closed-door interactions with observers from the All India Congress Committee (AICC), the majority of Congress MLAs in MP and Rajasthan favoured Kamal Nath and Ashok Gehlot, respectively, for the top job, sources told ET.
  • Yet, as per Congress tradition, the final choice will be that of the party president, who is likely to decide on 13 Dec 18. In both the states, younger leaders Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia are also claimants for the CM’s chair.
  • There’s a sense of urgency in Congress to settle the leadership issue at the earliest because the party is still tantalisingly short of majority in both MP and Rajasthan, and is dependent on the support of smaller parties and independents. Any delay, sources said, could only complicate the exercise of government formation.
  • To ensure there’s no room for speculation, top Congress leaders in both states met the respective governors on 12 Dec 18 to formally stake claim.
  • This, sources said, was also aimed at blocking any attempt at poaching even as the party decides on its CM candidates.
  • A section of the party is rooting for Kamal Nath and Gehlot, citing their experience, which would be crucial in stabilising the fragile new governments in both the states.
  • But supporters of Pilot and Scindia are seeking a generational shift in leadership, saying it would send a positive signal to the youth.
  • In Chhattisgarh, the 68 Congress MLAs have unanimously left it to party president Rahul Gandhi to decide on the new chief minister, said senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who arrived in Raipur late on 12 Dec 18.
  • Chhattisgarh Congress president and Pattan MLA Bhupesh Baghel and outgoing leader of Opposition TS Singh Deo are front runners for the chief minister’s job.

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