THE Congress on Thursday issued a notification for the party president poll, setting the ball rolling for electing the successor to the longest-serving chief Sonia Gandhi, with senior leaders Ashok Gehlot and Shashi Tharoor being seen as potential contenders.
According to the notification issued by the party’s central election authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry, the process for filing nominations for the election will be held from September 24 to 30.
The scrutiny of the nomination papers would take place on October 1, while the last date of withdrawal of nominations would be October 8. The final list of candidates would be published at 5 PM on August 8.
Polling, if required, will take place on October 17. The counting of votes and the declaration of results would be on October 19. Over 9,000 Pradesh Congress Committee delegates will vote in the polls. The party had also assured leaders that those wanting to file nomination will be able see the list of all 9,000 delegates from the office of central election authority at the AICC office from September 20.
In the notification, Central Election Authority Chairman Madhusudan Mistry, under the power vested in him by provision of Article XVIII of the Constitution of the Indian National Congress, announced the nomination form will be available at the AICC Office, 24
Akbar Road, New Delhi. “I hereby call upon the delegates of the Congress Party to elect the President of Indian National Congress in accordance with the provision made under Article XVIII,” Mistry said in the notification. The race for the Congress president’s post hotted up on Wednesday with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot giving a clear indication that he could enter the fray, and Shashi Tharoor meeting the party’s poll panel chief to enquire about the nomination formalities.
After over two decades, the Congress is set to see a contest for the post of party chief.
The upcoming polls would certainly be historic as the new president would replace Sonia Gandhi, the longest-serving party president who has been at the helm since 1998, barring the two years between 2017 and 2019 when Rahul Gandhi took over.
The party last saw a contest for the post 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 Rahul Gandhi likely to stick to his stance of not taking on the mantle of party president again, it seems the party will have its first non-Gandhi president in over two decades.
Also, with Sonia Gandhi asserting that she would remain neutral in the polls and there would be no “official candidate” it could be a keener contest than the one in 2000.