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King Cong: Will Shashi Tharoor Fight Reluctant Rahul in Prez Polls? Or Will It Be Gehlot or Tewari?

By: Pallavi Ghosh

Edited By: Manjiri Joshi

CNN-News18

Last Updated: September 19, 2022, 21:40 IST

New Delhi, India

Shashi Tharoor has been a signatory to the G-23’s first letter and has been raising his voice regarding the need for polls. (Twitter)

Shashi Tharoor has been a signatory to the G-23’s first letter and has been raising his voice regarding the need for polls. (Twitter)

While sources claim there are high chances that Tharoor may contest, he told News18: “I am yet to finalise.” Tharoor met Sonia Gandhi recently. Sources claim she has made it clear that she won’t back any candidate

Will the G-23 (group of 23) put up a candidate for the Congress presidential polls? If yes, will it be Shashi Tharoor or Ashok Gehlot or Manish Tewari?

While sources claim there are high chances that Tharoor may contest, he told News18: “I am yet to finalise.”

Tharoor incidentally met Sonia Gandhi recently. Sources claim she has made it clear that she won’t back any candidate nor show any kind of support for any person who chooses to contest. There is no clarity on whether Tharoor will contest as a G-23 member or on his own.​

Amid the speculation and news reports, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said: “Anybody who wants to contest is free and welcome to do so. This has been the consistent position of the Congress and Rahul Gandhi. It is an open, democratic and transparent process. Nobody needs anybody’s nod to contest.”

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G-23 WANTS TO PUT UP CANDIDATE

After a moment of lull and some exits, the G-23 has gone active and has a plan up their sleeves. Some of the members of the erstwhile G-23 met to chalk out their plan for the upcoming Congress presidential polls. Sources confirmed to News18 that they have decided to put up a candidate.

There is still no clarity on who the person may be. But one of the leaders who attended the meeting told News18: “After having pressured the Congress leadership to hold organisational polls and also give clarity on the list of electors, how can we not contest? We, too, have to prove a point.”

The point being they are not scared to take a risk.

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This development comes in the midst of several Congress state units passing a resolution that Rahul Gandhi must be made the president of the party. Madhusudan Mistry, the chief electoral officer who is overseeing the polls, told News18: “These resolutions are not binding on us. We have prepared a list of electors and it is available for those who want to contest to see. If there is more than one candidate, we will have an election."

Sources say that Sonia Gandhi is unimpressed with the resolutions. She, like Rahul Gandhi, wants it to be a free and open poll and no one will be targetted later, in case anyone wishes to contest against say Rahul Gandhi (if he decides to contest). So far, Gandhi remains disinterested and reluctant despite the resolutions.

THAROOR OR GEHLOT?

All eyes are on Ashok Gehlot and Shashi Tharoor for now. Gehlot remains reluctant to leave state politics and pave way for his opponent Sachin Pilot in the state. But some in the party think that Gehlot with his vast experience and administrative skills could be a good person to lead the party in the run-up to the 2024 polls. That is, if Rahul Gandhi refuses to sign the nomination papers.

There is still no clarity on whether he has made up his mind. But there are high chances that he is keen. It is also about proving a point. Tharoor and many like him may not win the elections, but having fought and taken the risk would win them political points.

Which comes back to an official G-23 candidate. Tharoor has been a signatory to the G-23’s first letter and has been raising his voice regarding the need for polls. So much so that Tharoor even said that contesting for the top post must not be prerogative of any one family.

But some members of the G-23 are upset with Ghulam Nabi Azad for having quit the party. “The idea was to stay with the Congress and fight for our point. His leaving has emboldened those in the party who had cast doubts on us at the CWC, which was called to discuss the letter."

ALSO READ | Exclusive | ‘Whoever Becomes Cong Chief Will Have to be Rahul Gandhi’s Slave, Carry Files’: Azad

So is the anger with some like Anand Sharma for not being as open in his criticism as he was earlier. Hence only that person, should the G-23 firm up its plans, be the candidate who has not been hesitant in mincing words. Could this person be Manish Tewari?

As the process for polls begins, it’s anybody’s guess whether Rahul Gandhi will change his mind.

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first published:September 19, 2022, 21:15 IST
last updated:September 19, 2022, 21:40 IST