Jaipur: Taking note of differences in the state cabinet over the recent decision to allow non-councillors to stand for elections to the posts of mayors and chairpersons of urban municipal bodies, the Congress high command has directed the local leadership to resolve the matter quickly.
The issue has divided the cabinet into two camps, with party state president and deputy CM Sachin Pilot and two ministers close to him publicly expressing their disapproval over the decision even as chief minister Ashok Gehlot’s camp, led by UDH minister Shanti Dhariwal, strongly defending it.
Avinash Pande, AICC general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan, told TOI on Tuesday, “I have asked UDH minister Dhariwal to speak to Gehlot and Pilot and clear the confusion.”
Earlier, AICC secretary in-charge of the state Vivek Bansal admitted to the media that there was a difference of opinion within the party on the new rule for candidates being introduced in the upcoming municipal polls. During his Bharatpur visit on Tuesday, Pilot reiterated his difference over the issue.
During his Bharatpur visit on Tuesday, Pilot reiterated his difference over the issue. “The rule has been amended. Anyone can now become a mayor without becoming a councillor, which I believe is not right,” he said.
“I want people to elect their candidate. In the present situation, anyone who is not a councillor can file a nomination and become a mayor. As it is there’s no anti-defection law for local body polls. So, chances of horse trading can increase in such a situation,” he said.
“The message should not go to the public that backdoor entry is on the rise in Congress party. While is why I say that the government should reconsider its decision,” he said.
The deputy CM reiterated that the new rule for for mayor/chairperson polls was not discussed either in the cabinet nor within the party.
Pointing at another matter of difference within the party and cabinet, Pilot dismissed reports of Congress forming an alliance with any other party for local bodies elections. The Congress had an alliance with the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) for the assembly polls and RLD’s lone MLA Subash Garg became a minister. Garg, on the other hand, said that the Congress-RLD alliance would continue for municipal polls.
“The party had forged an alliance with Sharad Yadav’s RLD, but it was only for the state assembly elections. When it comes to local body elections, Congress will contest on its own. The issue of forging an alliance with any other party in the upcoming local body elections has not been discussed,” Pilot said.