A day after remarkable victories in three states, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday remained busy in picking chief minister faces of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. While the Congress Legislature Party in the three states passed one-line resolutions leaving it to Gandhi to take a final call on the leaders of the CLP who will go on to become the chief ministers, party delegations staked claims to form the government in MP and Rajasthan after meeting the governors.
Gandhi has asked the party workers to tell their top choice for the chief ministerial post in each of the three states, party sources said. Using an internal messaging platform for the party workers, Gandhi sent out to them a pre-recorded audio message seeking their feedback for selection of the chief minister in their respective states, the sources said.
Despite repeated attempts, the party spokespersons did not comment on the message and its content. The exact time when the message was sent could not be ascertained.
Sources, however, said the message has been sent to a large number of party workers in the states that went to polls.
With more than one name doing the rounds for each of the three states where the Congress has secured numbers to form the government, Gandhi said in his message the party workers' choice would reach him directly and would not be known to anyone else.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said: “After consulting everybody we will give a CM candidate and a government that truly reflects will of people of these 3 states (Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh)."
On Wednesday evening, a five-member delegation of the Congress, including Kamal Nath, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Digvijaya Singh, met Madhya Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel to stake their claim to form government in the state.
The Congress emerged victorious winning 114 seats, just two short of the majority mark in the 230-member Assembly. For the Congress to form the government, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party played kingmakers. Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav’s parties, which won two and one seats respectively, extended their support to the Congress. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was ousted from the power as they managed to get only 109 seats. Outgoing chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan won from his Budhni constituency with 1,23,492 votes. As many as 12 ministers from the previous BJP government lost their respective constituencies. Chouhan has been ruling the state since 2005.
Similarly in Rajasthan, Congress leaders Ashok Gehlot, Sachin Pilot and other party members met Governor Kalyan Singh to stake claim to form the government in Rajasthan. Discussions spread over hours between AICC office bearers, sent to Jaipur from Delhi, and the newly elected MLAs failed to resolve an apparent division over picking former chief minister Ashok Gehlot or the state unit chief Rajesh Pilot.
When asked about the choice of the chief minister, Congress leader and one of the main faces for the post Sachin Pilot said the party's newly elected MLAs will debate the question, and party president Rahul Gandhi will take a decision after that.
The Congress emerged as the single largest party in Rajasthan in Tuesday's vote count, winning 99 seats. Its ally Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) won one seat for a total of 100 seats -- the required number to form government. The BJP got 73 seats, and the Bahujan Samaj Party won 6 seats. BSP leader Mayawati on Wednesday pledged support for the Congress. The CPI(M) got two seats, Independents won 13 and other parties got 6, according to the state Election Commission.
In Chhattisgarh, Congress state chief Bhupesh Baghel, former Opposition leader TS Singh Deo, chief of Chhattisgarh unit Charan Das Mahant, Lok Sabha MP Tamardhwaj Sahu and former Chhattisgarh minister Satyanarayan Sharma are among the key candidates for the chief minister's post in the state.
(With PTI inputs)