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 and had gone instead to the Speaker to hand in their resignation in protest against the possibility of Mr Gehlot being replaced by his rival Sachin Pilot in Rajasthan if he ran for Congress president.
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.
In his resignation letter, Mr Maken said, “Wedded to the ideology of Congress for the last three generations and being in active Congress politics for over 40 years, I will always remain an ardent follower of Rahul ji, whom I trust and have faith in beyond words.”
In the letter, Mr Maken said he wants to concentrate work in Delhi through trade unions and non-profits, and plans to raise the issue of air pollution; the rights of street vendors and slum dwellers, for whom he made “specific valuable contributions” as a union minister as well as a state minister.
Mr Maken asked the party to appoint a new Rajasthan in-charge before the first week of December, when the Bharat Jodo Yatra is due to enter the state. There is also a by-election on December 4.
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 would accept only Mr Gehlot as Chief Minister.
The 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 Mr 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.