After Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot declared that he will not contest for the post, The leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, has emerged as a frontrunner to be the third candidate. Before announcing his decision to pull out , Gehlot met Congress president Sonia Gandhi for about 90 minutes Thursday. He also offered to resign as Chief Minister and apologised to Sonia Gandhi for unprecedented behaviour .

While a final decision has not been taken, Kharge is said to have emerged as the new face in the race. Sources close to Kharge had earlier indicated that he was not averse to contesting but would proceed only on Sonia Gandhi’s directions. There was also a buzz in party circles about pressure on Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to contest. Late Thursday, Sonia drove to Priyanka’s residence and was with her for over an hour. Some leaders of the party’s G 23, meanwhile, met and said the possibility of one of them contesting cannot be ruled out in the event of the leadership fielding a “dummy” or “proxy” candidate.