The Congress presidential election — scheduled on October 17 — is turning out to be an interesting watch with several twists and turns, and now it appears to be a three-cornered contest with Shashi Tharoor, Digvijaya Singh and Ashok Gehlot likely to clash against each other for the top job.
Kerala MP Tharoor was the first one to declare his candidature, closely followed by Rajasthan CM Gehlot, who till some days back was considered a front-runner for the top post. But a sudden revolt by his loyalists – who opposed Sachin Pilot’s likely elevation as the CM – has cast a shadow over his candidature. Gehlot reached Delhi on Wednesday night and will meet Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Thursday.
Congress veteran and former Madhya Pradesh CM Digvijaya Singh also entered the poll fray with sources saying that he is likely to file his nomination papers on Thursday.
The nominations for the presidential elections can be filed till September 30. The date for scrutiny of nomination papers is October 1, while the last date for withdrawal of nominations is October 8. The final list of candidates will be published at 5 pm on October 8.
A look at the latest developments in this big story:
- Ashok Gehlot landed in Delhi this evening and will meet Sonia Gandhi tomorrow. Talking to reporters, the Rajasthan chief minister said, “Ghar ki baatein hain… we’ll solve it…I can tell you that…” “We work under the Congress president. Decisions will be taken as per that in the time to come. The media should recognise the issues of the country,” he further added.
- Gehlot’s Delhi visit comes a day after the Congress issued show-cause notices to three of his loyalists for the rebellion. As many as 92 MLAs had threatened to resign en masse if the next CM wasn’t chosen from the Gehlot camp.
- In a chat with Sonia Gandhi on Monday, the Rajasthan CM is learnt to have told her that he was not behind the parallel meeting of the MLAs and it was organised without his knowledge. He is also understood to have told Gandhi that he would abide by any decision taken by her and the party.
- Rajasthan cabinet Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas told reporters that the chief minister will express the feelings of 102 party MLAs before the party high command. He also ruled out Gehlot resigning as CM.
- Digvijaya Singh, a long-time Gandhi loyalist, may file the nominations on Thursday. Singh had earlier said he was not interested in becoming the party chief. “I have already said and I am reiterating that I am not interested in becoming the party’s national president.”
- Shashi Tharoor, the MP from Thiruvananthapuram, will file his nomination papers for the Congress chief’s election on September 30.
- Tharoor on Wednesday posted an Urdu couplet which many saw as him alluding to the growing support for his candidature. “I began my journey alone, people joined in and the caravan kept on growing),” Tharoor tweeted the lines of famous Urdu poet Majrooh Sultanpuri. Earlier this week, Tharoor said he has the support of party workers from across the country.
- The Congress last held the elections for the post of party president in November 2000. Jitendra Prasada had lost to Sonia Gandhi in 2000 and prior to that, Sitaram Kesri had defeated Sharad Pawar and Rajesh Pilot in 1997.
(With PTI inputs)