The race for the Congress president’s post is on as senior Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor and Mallikarjun Kharge both filed their nomination papers at the AICC headquarters on Friday with the Karnataka party loyalist emerging as a clear favourite. Former Jharkhand minister, K N Tripathi has also joined the fray, filing his nomination on Friday. His form was rejected on Saturday.
Meanwhile Digvijaya Singh beat a retreat after announcing his candidature and Ashok Gehlot pulled out of the race after realising it would cost him Rajasthan chief ministership on Friday.
As the stage is set for the contest, here are the latest updates on the Congress president election:
• Ex-Jharkhand minister Tripathi’s application was rejected after scrutiny on Saturday as it did not meet the norms. “KN Tripathi’s form was rejected as it did not meet the norms set, had signatures-related issues," Madhusudan Mistry said.
• Congress’ Central Election Authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry said, “Total of 20 forms were yesterday submitted. Of those, scrutiny committee rejected 4 forms due to signature issues. There is time till Oct 8 for withdrawal, picture would be clearer after that. If no one withdraws, voting process will begin," adding that Kharge and Tharoor are the current contenders for the post, as per ANI.
• “This isn’t a battle, let the party workers choose," says Tharoor.
#WATCH | Congress presidential candidate Shashi Tharoor says, “This isn’t a battle…Let party workers choose, that’s our message. I’m saying that if you’re satisfied with party’s working,vote for Kharge sahab. If you want change, I’m there. But there’s no ideological problem…" pic.twitter.com/N2pHXzY0BM— ANI (@ANI) October 1, 2022
• Speaking to ANI, Shashi Tharoor lauded the Congress party’s internal democracy. “The internal democracy that we are showing is not present in any other party. When election was announced, I had (no) intention (to contest). I wrote an article, stating that the election is good for party and mentioned its reasons," he said. “After that several people, ordinary workers told me to contest the poll. I started thinking and talking to people…I just want the party to strengthen and that I become a voice of the changes within the party and show its different face to people."
• Ahead of the Cong race, Kharge met Congress leader AK Anthony at Kerala House before Anthony left for Kerala. “It is a courtesy visit. He is leaving today so came to meet him," he said. When asked if it will be a friendly fight between him and Tharoor, he said that this was not an individual fight, this fight was for Congress.
• Mallikarjun Kharge met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and submitted his resignation as the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, in line with the one person, one post principle adopted by the party at the Udaipur Chintan Shivir.
• Madhusudan Mistry on Friday told ANI that they had received three forms which would be scrutinised on Saturday. “None of these 3 is an official candidate of the party. They’re contesting on their own. Congress president has made it very clear that she’ll stay neutral throughout the process & if someone claims he has her blessings, it is incorrect," he added.
• Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor seeks change and has plans to pull the party out of its streak of electoral reversals. Speaking to CNN-News18, he said, “We just can’t continue as business as usual. We’ve been stuck at the ceiling of 19 per cent of the votes in two successive elections. We need to try something different,” said Tharoor. He also reiterated his recent statement that “this is not a battle between rivals. It is a very friendly contest between colleagues.”
• The 80-year-old Kharge, flanked by top Congress leaders, filed 14 sets of nomination papers with the proposers including Ashok Gehlot, Digvijaya Singh, A K Antony, Ambika Soni, Mukul Wasnik and members from the G-23 ginger group, while Tharoor, who was also part of the G-23 group, filed five sets of nomination papers.
• Former Jharkhand minister Tripathi had filed a single set of poll papers with Madhusudan Mistry, the chairman of the Congress’s Central Election Authority.
• Digvijaya Singh dropped out of Congress presidential election as Mallikarjun Kharge was set to file his nomination papers on Friday. “I have told Kharge if you are filing nomination I will not fight the elections,” he said. “Kharge Ji is my senior. I went to his residence yesterday and told him that I won’t file my nomination if he’s filing (for Congress President). He said that he won’t be filing. Afterwards, I got to know via press that he is a candidate,” he said.
• All eyes are on Rajasthan after the Congress said a decision on the chief minister would be taken by Sonia Gandhi in a day or two, as Ashok Gehlot dropped out of the president race over losing his post as Rajasthan CM. On Friday, Gehlot extended his support to senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge for the Congress president post.
(With agency inputs)