As the Congress is facing a most turbulent time with veteran leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Jaiveer Shergill among others going on a resignation spree, all eyes are on old warhorse and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot to see if he will lead the Congress from the front as AICC president.
If sources in the Congress are to be believed, hints were dropped to Gehlot to lead the show as Congress president during his recent meeting with Sonia Gandhi. However, Gehlot over the last one week has been insisting that Rahul Gandhi should be made the party president.
After meeting Sonia Gandhi, Gehlot on his return to Rajasthan told the media, "Right now, the party high command has given me two responsibilities. The first is to work as the senior observer for Gujarat, and the other as Chief Minister of Rajasthan. I will do both. I will put all my efforts to ensure that Congress retains power in Rajasthan."
Meanwhile, speaking to the media in Baran, Gehlot said that he stands with Rajasthan, its people and will never go away.
Speaking on the party's election process, he said, "The election schedule will be announced on August 28."
Expressing his attachment to the place where he was born and the people of the state, Gehlot said, "I am with you, I was not far away. I am not going to stay away from this state till the last breath of my life. No matter what the responsibility, whatever I do, the state in which I was born, the conditions which I have seen since childhood, will never stay away from me."
Gehlot was interacting with the media at Anta in Baran district on Thursday.
Now, this statement of Gehlot is being connected by party workers to emphasise the fact that he is keen to serve Rajasthan.
Gehlot, sources said, has given a clear signal to his rival group led by Sachin Pilot that he will constantly stay connected to the state and its people.
However, Congress workers in Rajasthan are confused by the statements of Gehlot.
"While the CM has been saying that he shall stay connected with Rajasthan and will not go anywhere, he has not denied the speculation that he has been asked by Sonia Gandhi to lead the show as Congress president."
"Our party is already in trouble and there is no place for such speculation at this critical juncture. We as party workers should be apprised of all the developments as otherwise we become a laughing stock in front of others. Now, when elections are coming next year, such confusion at the top level of the party is unwanted," said a senior worker.
Since the last several days, speculation has been rife that Ashok Gehlot has been asked to lead the party as the Congress president. However, Gehlot has been continuously denying such statements, but he has also been saying that he will do whatever the high command says.
In Delhi, after meeting Sonia Gandhi, he said, "Even now we will continuously try to persuade Rahul Gandhi to accept the post of president, we will try to persuade Rahul Gandhi till the end."
Meanwhile, after the Ghulam Nabi Azad episode, all eyes are on Gehlot to see if he leads from the front or if someone else will be anointed to save the Congress from its crisis within.
"We as party workers want to return to form our government. Top leaders should work in synergy and take the right step else it will be embarrassing for us to face the people," said a chairperson of a state board on condition of anonymity.