Congress leader Ajay Maken has quit as the party’s Rajasthan in-charge, sources have said, indicating he is upset with the turn of events in late September when Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot at the last minute refused to give up the post to contest the Congress president’s election.
Over 90 MLAs loyal to Mr Gehlot had refused to attend a key party meeting, where Mr Gehlot’s replacement was to be picked, and instead went to the Speaker to hand in their resignation in protest against the Congress leadership’s attempt to make Mr Gehlot give up the Chief Minister’s post.
Mr Maken expected the party to take action against the MLAs, but no such thing has happened, which contributed to his decision to quit as the Congress’s Rajasthan in-charge, sources said.
During the September crisis, Mr Maken had specifically sought action against three MLAs – Mahesh Joshi, Dharmendra Rathore, and Shanti Dhariwal, who hosted a parallel meeting of MLAs to pass a resolution that they will accept only Mr Gehlot as the Chief Minister.
Other factors that upset Mr Maken include no follow-up on show cause notices served to MLAs loyal to Mr Gehlot and no meeting of the Congress Legislature Party, or CLP, sources said.
Mr Maken, who was also criticised by the MLAs loyal to Mr Gehlot for trying to persuade Mr Gehlot to run for Congress president and free up the top post for Sachin Pilot, reportedly said Rajasthan needs a new in-charge after all that had happened under his watch.
He has stayed away from a meeting to review the Congress’s Bharat Jodo (unite India) yatra.
Mr Maken’s resignation also comes just two weeks after Mr Pilot called for an end to the air of political uncertainty in Rajasthan, seeking action against MLAs loyal to Mr Gehlot. “It’s time now to end the climate of indecision in Rajasthan,” Mr Pilot said on November 2.