Congress president Rahul Gandhi set to announce new Rajasthan chief minister at 4.30 pm today

Congress president Rahul Gandhi is set to announce the next chief minister of Rajasthan at 4.30 pm on Friday, hours after Rahul met the two prominent contenders for the post, Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot. According to ANI, Gehlot is set to be the chief minister.

Ashok Gehlot on Friday replied to BJP's remarks over the delay, stating that "making decisions in such matters takes time as observers go to states for discussions."  Gehlot also pointed out that "the BJP itself took seven days to choose chief minister when emerged victorious in Uttar Pradesh... In Maharashtra too, the BJP took nine days to choose the head of the state."

 Congress president Rahul Gandhi set to announce new Rajasthan chief minister at 4.30 pm today

Rahul Gandhi with Ashok Gehlot (L) and Sachin Pilot (R). Twitter/@RahulGandhi

The decision will be made public at a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) in state capital Jaipur, sources said. After several rounds of discussions that lasted till Thursday midnight, Congress veteran Gehlot has emerged as a front-runner for the top post, while Pradesh Congress Committee president Pilot is being placated in attempts to broker peace between the two.

Party's central observer for Rajasthan KC Venugopal told PTI, "It is up to the Congress president to take a final call and the decision is being awaited." Congress leaders feel once the MLAs in the state have authorised Rahul to take a decision on the chief minister, leaders should not challenge the high command and accept the decision.

Pilot, 41, is still reportedly not on board on Gehlot's name, which is delaying the announcement, the sources said. The PCC chief has put up a stiff resistance and his staking his own claim for the top post. AICC general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan Avinash Pande told PTI," Congress president heard everyone and after wide consultations he will take the final decision which will be acceptable to all."

Rahul is likely to meet Pilot and Gehlot, 67, again at his residence in attempts to broker peace, like he did in the case of Madhya Pradesh where Kamal Nath was declared as the next chief minister amid hectic parleys held by the Congress chief with senior party leaders in the National Capital on Thursday night.

The Congress leadership want Gehlot and Pilot to be present together at the CLP meet.

Sources said the Congress top brass was upset with the manner in which party workers resorted to arson and violence in the state in a bid to exert pressure on the party to name Pilot. They said this the first time such incidents have been reported in Rajasthan and the party has taken the matter seriously.

The incidents of violence were reported in Jaipur, Dosa and other parts of the state on Thursday following which the Congress leadership asked both Pilot and Gehlot to issue appeal for peace. The party leaders feel the infighting in Rajasthan should end soon and called an amicable solution in the manner Jyotiraditya Scindia gracefully accepted the Congress's decision in Madhya Pradesh.

On 11 December, the Congress bagged as many as 99 seats out in the 200-member assembly. The party's ally Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) managed to win one seat to get the magical 100 marks, which is required to form the government. While rival BJP led by Vasundhara Raje declined drastically from 163 to 73 seats, Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party managed to bag six seats and has also offered support to the Congress. The remaining 20 seats were won by Independent candidates.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Dec 14, 2018 15:07:52 IST