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Will Rahul Gandhi take over as Cong prez before Gujarat polls? Key meet today

Amid buzz over Rahul Gandhi taking over as Congress president, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) will meet on Monday to chart out the schedule for the election.

india Updated: Nov 19, 2017 23:46 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rahul Gandhi,Congress,Sonia Gandhi
Congress president Sonia Gandhi with vice president Rahul Gandhi at the AICC office in New Delhi.(HT File Photo)

The prolonged suspense over Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as the Congress president could be over as early as December 1 should the party’s highest decision-making body accept the dates of its organisational polls.

The Congress Working Committee (CWC) will meet on Monday to take a final call. As per the poll schedule drawn up by the principal opposition party’s election authority, the last date of filing nomination papers is December 1 and if there is a contest, the election would be held on December 8.

“The dates for election of the next Congress president will be fixed on Monday,” senior leader Janardan Dwivedi said. “If there is only one nomination, the next Congress president will be announced on the last day of withdrawal itself.”

Since 2000 when late Jitendra Prasad unsuccessfully challenged Sonia Gandhi, there has not been a contest for the post of party chief.

It will be interesting to see if the Congress would make a leadership change days ahead of the Gujarat election, where the party is fancying its chances for the first time in 22 years.

The polling for the 182-member assembly in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah will be held on December 9 and 14.

The 47-year-old Congress vice president has already indicated his willingness to take over the mantle, saying “I am absolutely ready to do that” but the decision would have to be that of the party.

The Congress is running behind schedule to elect its new chief. After two extensions, the Election Commission has set December 31 deadline for the party to complete its internal polls.

Majority of the state units barring poll-bound Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland have completed the elections, which were a no-contest.

Almost all states passed unanimous resolutions, demanding Rahul, who has been the vice president for more than four years, be made the party chief.

Sonia, who holds the record of being the party chief for more than 19 consecutive years after taking over from Sitaram Kesri in March 1998, said last month that Rahul would soon take over the reins of the party.

At its meeting on November 7 last year, the CWC had unanimously requested Rahul to take control of the party founded on December 28, 1885.

Addressing students at University of California, Berkeley, on September 12, Rahul had said he was ready to lead the Congress but the mandate had to come from within the party through an electoral process.

“I am absolutely ready to do that but the way our party works, we have an organisational election process that decides that and that process is currently ongoing,” he said.

If there is a challenger to Rahul, which is highly unlikely, around 2,000 delegates of party’s electoral college will vote for the chief. These delegates are picked by the party’s state units.

First Published: Nov 18, 2017 19:21 IST