“Why Rule Me Out?”: Digvijaya Singh On Congress Chief Election:

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Digvijay Singh said that there is no Gandhi in the race is “no concern at all”

New Delhi:

In the intense build-up to the Congress president election, Digvijaya Singh today added a new twist by suggesting that he could join Ashok Gehlot and Shashi Tharoor as a candidate for the top post. The Congress veteran also said Ashok Gehlot, a frontrunner for the top post and the Gandhis’ favourite for the role, will have to “obviously quit” as Rajasthan Chief Minister if he takes charge.

Digvijaya Singh spoke to NDTV in the setting of a brewing showdown between Ashok Gehlot and the man who could be his replacement as Rajasthan Chief Minister – his rival Sachin Pilot.

The Congress adopted a “one man, one post” resolve at a leadership meet in Rajasthan’s Udaipur earlier this year but Mr Gehlot today said he could well hold, not one but “three posts”, signaling that he is not ready to give up his Rajasthan role.

On whether Mr Gehlot could be both Congress president and Chief Minister, Digvijaya Singh referred to the Udaipur resolution.

So Mr Gehlot would have to resign, Mr Singh was asked. “Obviously, yes,” said the former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister.

Ashok Gehlot or Shashi Tharoor? “Let’s see. I am not ruling myself out also, why do you want to keep me out?” – he replied, suggesting that he could be the third man in the party’s first election for Congress president in over 20 years.

“Everyone has the right to contest… You will know the answer on the evening of 30th (last day of nominations).”

That there is no Gandhi in the race is “no concern at all”, he told NDTV.

“There is no concern at all. Whoever wants to contest has got the right to contest. And if one doesn’t want to contest, then they can’t be forced to contest. That’s it,” he said.

Rahul Gandhi has refused to return to the post he quit after the Congress’s drubbing in the 2019 national election. Ashok Gehlot has said he will contest only if he can’t bring Rahul Gandhi around. “One has to face reality… This is what appears to be. But let’s wait,” he said, adding that once Mr Gandhi has made up his mind, it is difficult to change it.

In the past, the Congress has functioned with a non-Gandhi at the top, he argued. “Didn’t we function when Narasimha Rao was there? Didn’t we function before when Sitaram Kesari was there,” he said.

If not as president, Rahul Gandhi would play “whatever role the new Congress president” assigns, Mr Singh said.

When it was pointed out that Rahul Gandhi remains the face of the Congress, he quipped: “He is one of the 119 yatris who are walking from Kanyakumari to Kashmir.”

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