Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh travelled from Bhopal to Delhi late this evening, his supporters said, to file his nomination for the presidentship of the party after Kamal Nath told reporters in Madhya Pradesh that his focus would continue to be the state. “I cannot do justice to the national presidentship of a party like the Congress. The MP assembly election is due in less than a year and my eyes are firmly fixed on that” he said in Bhopal. When asked if Digvijaya Singh was likely to file his papers for the position, he said testily: “you will have to put that question to Digvijaya Singh ji”.
Negotiations with Ashok Gehlot, the Rajasthan Chief Minister, hung in a limbo till the time of writing. Gehlot was to meet party president Sonia Gandhi at 2 pm, the meeting was postponed till 5 PM and there was no clarity when, if at all, the meeting took place. Meanwhile Gandhi was closeted with party stalwart AK Antony to try and work out how to defuse the crisis.
The process of nominations ends on September 30 with only Shashi Tharoor in the race so far. Tharoor will file his papers on September 30.
Singh, currently part of Bharat Jodo Yatra, had a week back said he was not ruling himself out of the party chief’s post but later publicly stated that he was not interested.
In Jaipur, several ministers close to Gehlot said he had been elected for five years and will complete his term as chief minister. “Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot will go to Delhi today in the evening. He will further tell about the opinion of 102 MLAs to central leadership of the party. CM Gehlot is not resigning today, there are no such talks of it”, loyalist PS Khachariyawas told local reporters.
Supporters of Sachin Pilot, who is also in Delhi, said Pilot might consider the proposal that he be made chief minister with two deputy chief ministers from the Gehlot camp. But this was dismissed by a former member of the CWC, who said that after trying to break the party and enabling the BJP to form a government, Sonia Gandhi would not countenance elevating Pilot in circumstances where she might be seen as being under pressure.
With the deadline for nominations drawing closer, there was no clarity on who would get the job and whether there would be a contest – or if the election would simply be postponed.