Amid hectic lobbying for the post of chief minister in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has asked the party workers to tell their top choice for the chief minister post in each of the three states, party sources said.
Using an internal messaging platform, Gandhi sent out a pre-recorded audio message seeking the feedback of 2.3 lakh party workers for selection of the chief minister in their respective states, the sources said.
Reports said that the Congress chief was heard congratulating the party leaders for the victory in the Hindi heartland by wresting three states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh from BJP.
“Now I want to ask you a vital question: Who should be the chief minister? Please mention just one name. I’m the only person who would know whom you are naming. No one in the party will know. Please speak after the beep,” Gandhi was heard as saying in the audio message.
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.
A senior MLA in one of the three states also confirmed having received the pre-recorded message through the ShaktiApp used by the Congress chief for communicating with the party workers. The MLA said he recorded his choice for the chief minister post in a direct message to the party chief through the application.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala late on Wednesday confirmed that the process of appointing chief ministers for the three states was underway and said that the party believes in knowing the viewpoint of every elected legislator.
He further said that senior leaders AK Antony, Mallikarjun Kharge, KC Venugopal along with the general secretary in-charges have gone to their respective states to know the opinion of each legislator.
“Despite universal resolution leaving the choice to Congress President Rahul Gandhi, he wants to go by the choice of legislators,” he added.
The Congress had not named any candidate for the Chief Minister’s post in any state. With more than one name doing the rounds for each of the three states where the Congress has secured numbers to form the government, Rahul Gandhi said in his message the party workers’ choice would reach him directly and would not be known to anyone else.
A major challenge for the Congress is Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan where top leaders are the leading contenders for the top post.
In Madhya Pradesh, its a tight fight between Kamal Nath, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Digvijay Singh.
While Digvijay Singh is a former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath is a senior politician whose organisational skills as Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee president helped the party immensely.
On the other hand, Guna MP Jyotiraditya Scindia is being hailed for being the driving force that led to the re-emergence of the Congress in the state after 15 years.
Rajasthan too faces a major leadership tussle. Former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and state Congress president Sachin Pilot are the leading contenders for the post.
Both the leaders have played a major role in the distribution of tickets among the candidates.
Chhattisgarh has three ministers in the fray – OBC leader Tamardhwaj Sahu, Leader of Opposition in Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly TS Singh Deo and President of Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee Bhupesh Baghel.
The Congress is likely to announce the chief ministers on Thursday.