In an indication that the Congress’ top leadership is unwilling to accept Ajay Maken’s request to be relieved of his responsibilities as the All India Congress Committee’s (AICC) in-charge for Rajasthan, the party on Thursday named Mr. Maken as one of the star campaigners for the Sardarshahar Assembly constituency where byelection is to be held on December 5.
And significantly, the three loyalists of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who were served a show cause notice for allegedly spearheading the revolt by MLAs ahead of a Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting on September 25, have been left out of the star campaigners’ list. The three leaders are State Ministers Shanti Dhariwal and Mahesh Joshi and Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation chief Dharmendra Rathore.
Mr. Maken had written to party president Mallikarjun Kharge on November 8 but the contents of the letter became public on Wednesday. In the letter, citing the September 25 events, the Congress leader had expressed his inability to continue as the AICC in-charge for Rajasthan.
The trigger was the delay in taking action against the three leaders against whom Mr. Maken had recommended strict disciplinary action for holding a parallel meeting of MLAs and refusing to attend the CLP meeting.
The CLP meeting was meant to authorise the then Congress President Sonia Gandhi to choose a leader who would replace Mr. Gehlot as the Chief Minister as the latter was then the frontrunner in the Congress presidential election.
Though there has been no official statement from the party with regard to the latest Rajasthan developments, Mr. Maken is believed to have recently met Mr. Kharge to explain his position.
His letter also comes at a time when supporters of Sachin Pilot have renewed their efforts for a leadership change in Rajasthan ahead of next year’s Assembly election in the State.