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Sushil Kumar Shinde, Mukul Wasnik, Mallikarjun Kharge: Who Will Take the Baton from Rahul?

File photo of Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge.

File photo of Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge.

According to the party constitution, the senior-most general secretary takes over in the interim after the chief's resignation and remains in office until the Congress Working Committee (CWC) appoints a new head.

New Delhi: If the president of the Congress party resigns, the party constitution stipulates that the senior-most general secretary of the party takes over in the interim and remains in office until the Congress Working Committee (CWC) appoints a new chief.

With Rahul Gandhi handing in his official resignation on Wednesday, former treasurer and family loyalist Motilal Vora will remain in office and discharge the duties of the party president till an alternative arrangement is made.

The question remains — who will the CWC choose to replace Gandhi?

Former Maharashtra chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde is one of the names doing the rounds in the party circles. The septuagenarian leader contested the Lok Sabha elections from Sholapur in Maharashtra and lost to BJP’s Jai Siddheshwar Shivacharya Swami. Shinde is considered a prominent Dalit face in the party and, above all, he is said to enjoy the complete and total trust of the Gandhi family.

Earlier this year, Shinde found himself in controversy in Maharashtra politics when the BJP claimed it had attempted to poach him and his daughter, Praniti Shinde, who is a member of the state legislative assembly.

The second name doing rounds is that of Mukul Wasnik, another Dalit leader from Maharashtra. Wasnik has served as a minister in the Manmohan Singh government. With elections to the state assembly slated to be held later this year, there is a view in the party that nominating the next president from the state would be politically beneficial to the Congress, especially when Prakash Ambedkar’s Republican Party of India (RPI) and Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) have made serious inroads in the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) vote base. The alliance lost on 11 seats where joint candidates put up by the RPI and the AIMIM got more votes than the victory margin of the BJP.

The name of former minister and leader of Congress in the last Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, is also in contention. While the Gulbarga MP had lost the Lok Sabha elections, he remains a tall Dalit leader in Karnataka politics.