Tharoor visits Sonia, assured of ‘transparent, fair election’
Congress president Sonia Gandhi met Shashi Tharoor who visited her residence on Monday, weeks after expressing concerns about “transparency and fairness” in the party chief’s election
Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday assured Shashi Tharoor, who is widely expected to contest the upcoming poll for the party chief’s post, that the election will be held in a “fair and transparent” manner and anyone who wants to contest may file their nomination, party leaders aware of what happened at a meeting between the two said.
Gandhi met the Congress lawmaker who visited her residence on Monday, weeks after expressing concerns about “transparency and fairness” in the upcoming party president’s election.
“Mrs Gandhi has made it very clear that genuine election will be held and anyone who wants to contest can stand for president,” said a senior Congress leader requesting anonymity.
The meeting comes amid speculation that Tharoor, the Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvanathapuram, may contest the Congress president’s election. The name of Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot too is doing the rounds, although, like Tharoor, he is yet to confirm his candidature.
Gandhi also conveyed to Tharoor that there will be no official party candidate in the upcoming poll, the leader said. “She said the election will be fair and transparent.”
Tharoor could not be reached for a comment.
Later in the day, Congress general secretary in-charge of communications Jairam Ramesh said, “Anybody who wants to contest is free and welcome to do so. This has been the consistent position of Congress president and Rahul Gandhi. This is an open, democratic and transparent process.”
Before his meeting with Sonia Gandhi, Tharoor on Monday also endorsed a petition by younger members of the party seeking “constructive reforms” in the Congress.
“I welcome this petition that is being circulated by a group of young @INCIndia members, seeking constructive reforms in the Party,” Tharoor tweeted. “It has gathered over 650 signatures so far. I am happy to endorse it & to go beyond it.”
The Congress MP also shared a copy of the petition that sought reforms and a pledge by Congress presidential candidates to implement in entirety the Udaipur Declaration on May 15, if elected.
“We appeal to each candidate in the election for the President of the All India Congress Committee to undertake a public pledge to involve party members from block committees up to the CWC [Congress Working Committee] and implement the Udaipur Declaration in entirety within the first 100 days of assuming office,” the petition stated.
The meeting comes after a group of Congress MPs wrote to party’s internal poll in-charge Madhusudan Mistry, demanding “transparency” in the election process. The MPs also demanded that the list of all PCC [Pradesh Congress Committee] delegates — which constitute the electoral college for the poll — be made available to all electors and potential candidates.
In a joint letter to Mistry dated September 6, Congress’s Lok Sabha members Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewari, Karti Chidambaram, Pradyut Bordoloi and Abdul Khaleque said the list must be made available in order to verify who is entitled to nominate a candidate and who is entitled to vote.
The party had earlier said that any Congress member willing to contest for the party president’s post will require the support of at least 10 delegates.
“In case the CEA (Central Election Authority) has any concerns with respect to releasing the electoral rolls publicly, it must put in place a mechanism to securely share this information with all electors and potential candidates,” the letter stated.
Replying to the letter, Mistry last week had said: “I note your concern and appreciate your intention of strengthening the party.” Mistry added that “for the first time, we are issuing QR code-based identity cards to all the delegates across the 28 states and 9 Union territories”.
“Those who want to file a nomination should check if they have a delegate identity card available with them,” Mistry said. “Only people with valid identity cards will be allowed to sign on the nomination papers.”
The Congress president’s election will be held on October 17 and the result will be declared two days later. The nominations for the election can be filed from September 24 to 30 and the last date for withdrawal of nominations is October 8.