Will Congress Get A Non-Gandhi President As Shashi Tharoor, Ashok Gehlot Emerge Probables

Amid the massive buzz over the presidential polls, the number one question in everyone's mind is will Congress see a non-Gandhi President or whether the reigns of the grand old party will continue to be with the Gandhis.

By Talibuddin Khan
Updated: Tue, 20 Sep 2022 05:52 PM IST
Minute Read
Will Congress Get A Non-Gandhi President As Shashi Tharoor, Ashok Gehlot Emerge Probables
Shashi Tharoor and Ashok Gehlot (ANI Images)

CONGRESS presidential polls is one among the hot topics in the political circles of India. The much-awaited elections for the Congress top post will be held on October 17 and the results of the polls will be declared on October 19. The filing of nominations for the Congress Presidential Elections will begin on September 24 and will continue till September 30. Meanwhile, Congress will be releasing the list of delegates today for the party president election. The delegates make up the electoral college or the members who will elect the party president.

Amid the massive buzz over the presidential polls, the number one question in everyone's mind is will Congress see a non-Gandhi President or whether the reigns of the grand old party will continue to be with the Gandhis, who have been holding the Congress top post for almost 25 years now.

Meanwhile, with the visible infighting among the Congress, which became more transparent after the resignation of several big guns of the party, the task to keep the flock together has become a tough task for the Congress top brass. Many party leaders have voiced their support for Gandhis and said that only a Gandhi can keep the Congress intact.

Several state cadres of the Congress have extended their support to make Rahul Gandhi the Congress president, the post which he held in 2017 but resigned two years later after the grand old party suffered massive defeat in the 2019 general elections for the second consecutive time, with party's vote share diminishing further.

Reluctance of Rahul Gandhi despite the growing support:

However, despite the growing support from Congress leaders, Rahul Gandhi has repeatedly shown reluctance to take up the party's top post. Earlier in 2020, when the clamour against the Congress top leadership grew, several leaders asked Rahul Gandhi to take up the post to resolve the inside issues of the party. However, the Wayanad MP refused and said that the president will be elected through elections.

Since 2020, Congress has held several meetings of the Working Committee, the party's top decision-making body, during which Sonia Gandhi was elected as the interim chief of the party due to Rahul Gandhi's refusal to take up the post. Earlier this month, Rahul Gandhi again ignited rumours that he is mulling contesting the presidential elections and he has made up his mind.

"Whether I become president (of Congress) or not will become clear when the elections for the president post take place. I have very clearly decided what I will do, there is no confusion in my mind," Rahul Gandhi had said.

Over half a dozen Congress state units have sought Rahul's elevation to the top post. After Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat units, the party’s Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir and Mumbai units passed resolutions calling for his elevation to the post of president on Monday.

Ashok Gehlot, Shashi Tharoor emerging as alternatives for Congress top post:

Shashi Tharoor, who is a member of the G23 group, a group of 23 dissenters leaders in the Congress, on Monday reportedly received Sonia Gandhi's nod to contest the presidential polls. He had met the Congress interim chief on Monday after which she gave him a green signal. Meanwhile, Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot is also among the top contenders of the Congress top post, given his close relationship with the Gandhi family.

The speculations over Ashok Gehlot gained traction after he met Sonia Gandhi a few weeks ago, in which, according to the sources, the Congress interim president had asked him to be prepared for the poll to decide the party chief. However, Gehlot has maintained a distance from any such reports by refraining from making comments when asked whether the election would have a long-term impact on his politics in Rajasthan. Many believe that Gehlot is backed by the top leadership to run for the post.

Gehlot has also said that he is "trying to persuade Rahul Gandhi" to contest rather than his own nomination. "Ashok Gehlot says that rather than thinking of running for Congress President he is trying to persuade Rahul Gandhi to do so. He remains a loyal soldier of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi," ANI quoted sources as saying.

Notably, Shashi Tharoor is a candidate of the G-23 group within the party to contest the poll. He garners the support of several MPs as along with him, five other MPs had written a letter to Congress central election authority chairman, Madhusudhan Mistry demanding that electoral roles should be made available to all. Tharoor also got the nod from Sonia Gandhi to contest the polls after he met her in Delhi.

The Thiruvananthapuram MP also welcomed elections in the party and said that Rahul Gandhi's refusal to be appointed as the Congress president was disappointing. According to him, however, the party should not be limited by the belief that only one family can lead it. Tharoor had penned an article in Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi saying that the party polls were the first step towards rejuvenation of the organisation.

After the refusal of the Gandhi family to enter the race for the post of president, Gehlot and leaders like Mukul Wasnik, K C Venugopal, Kumari Selja, Malikarjun Kharge, and Bhupesh Baghel are being considered possible choices.

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