Congress scrambles to find a candidate for party president's poll

Wednesday 28th September 2022 06:57 EDT

The Congress leadership on Tuesday scrambled to search for a candidate for the party presidential election, an alternative to its first choice - chief minister Ashok Gehlot - after the rebellion by the party’s lawmakers in Rajasthan.

In Rajasthan, the Congress’s 90-plus legislators have decided against passing a one-line resolution authorising the Congress leadership to take the call on the next chief minister and insisted on introducing conditions for the change of guard, considered a gross indiscipline according to the Congress standard.

As a result, Gehlot’s chances of becoming the party president, unless the Rajasthan leadership issue is resolved amicably, is virtually nil. And that poses a problem. “For the last few weeks, Gehlot was our only choice. We didn’t have a plan B because no one anticipated such a situation may arise. Gehlot was a staunch loyalist of the Gandhi family,” said a leader involved in the Rajasthan crisis.

Shashi Tharoor to file nomination

Amid suspense over who could take on Shashi Tharoor in the president polls, party's central election authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry said AICC treasurer Pawan Kumar Bansal has got nomination forms collected, adding that it may be for someone else. Mistry also said a representative of Tharoor has informed his office that he will file nomination for the post of president on September 30 at 11am.
Speaking with reporters, Mistry said he met party chief Sonia Gandhi and handed over her voter's ID card. He also briefed Gandhi about the process so far as to how many people have collected the nomination forms and about the delegates. According to a notification issued by the party, the process for filing nominations for the election will be held from September 24 to 30. The date for scrutiny of the nomination papers is October 1, while the last date for withdrawal of nominations is October 8. The final list of candidates will be published on October 8. The polling, if needed, will be held on October 17. The counting of votes will be taken up on October 19 and the results will be declared the same day.
Cong looks for way out of Rajasthan crisis

With the situation turning serious, Sonia Gandhi has summoned Madhya Pradesh leader Kamal Nath for a discussion - she is learned to have asked him about his plans. Nath, however, seems to have suggested that he wants to continue his focus on Bhopal. The disinclination of Kamal Nath, creates complications for the leadership. The trouble shooters seem to appreciate the pitfall in switching horses when Nath had ruled himself out.

The names of Mallikarjun Kharge, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Digvijaya Singh and Mukul Wasnik are now back in speculation as alternatives to Gehlot. Sonia Gandhi held a meeting with Kharge and Ajay Maken, who went for the ill-fated legislature party meeting to pick the successor to Gehlot as CM. The two managers apprised Sonia of the developments in Jaipur, and Maken said the Congress chief had asked them for a written report. All eyes are on a possible resolution. Gehlot is said to have told the Congress managers that he had no role in the boycott by the MLAs and was “apologetic” about it.

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