Congress set to hold president polls on October 17
DECCAN CHRONICLE | Ashhar Khan
NEW DELHI: The election to the post of Congress president will be held on October 17 and the results will be declared after counting on October 19 after the Congress Working Committee gave its stamp of approval. The election notification will be issued on September 22 and the date for the filing of nominations will be between September 24 and 30. The last date of withdrawal of nominations will be October 8.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who had joined the meeting virtually as she is travelling abroad for health check-ups, presided over the CWC meeting. The election schedule was approved unanimously, the party’s organisational in-charge, Mr K.C. Venugopal, said. Along with Mrs Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are also abroad and are expected to return to India soon.
The Congress had announced in October last year that the election of the new party president will be held between August 21 and September 20 this year. The internal elections in the Congress have been deferred by a couple of weeks.
Several Congress leaders and workers want Rahul Gandhi to take over as party chief. Insiders claim Mr Gandhi has refused to return as Congress president after he quit in 2019 owning responsibility for the party’s Lok Sabha poll defeat that year. Mrs Sonia Gandhi, who took over as interim chief at the party’s request after her son’s resignation, has already said "no" to continuing in the post, citing health reasons. All three Gandhis have reportedly have made up their mind that a non-Gandhi should lead the party, a claim that is constantly being refuted by the Gandhi loyalists.
Confusion still persists on who will take over as party chief. Many claim that Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot is the front-runner. But Mr Gehlot himself says he will work hard to ensure that Mr Rahul Gandhi becomes the party chief.
In a resolution at its meeting on Sunday, the CWC also decided to make the "Mehangai Par Halla Bol" rally in Delhi on September 4 and the launch of the Bharat Jodo Yatra from Kanyakumari on September 7 "a resounding success". The Congress has planned a rally in the national capital against the rise in prices on September 4 and a 150-day yatra.
The meeting of the Congress’ apex body came in the backdrop of the resignation of party veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad, who ended his 50-year association with the party on Friday. Mr Azad was also a part of the G-23 grouping of change-seekers who had written a letter to Mrs Sonia Gandhi in August 2020. The letter demanded sweeping changes in the functioning of the party. In the last 14 months, there have several major exits from the party, which include Kapil Sibal, Jitin Prasada, Ashwani Kumar, R.P.N. Singh, Sunil Jakhar, Amarinder Singh and Sushmita Dev, amongst others.
Among those present at Sunday’s meeting was Anand Sharma, who was part of the G-23 dissident group, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, central election authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry, K.C. Venugopal, former Union ministers Jairam Ramesh, Mukul Wasnik and P. Chidambaram, and Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot along with Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel.