Sunday, October 29, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

74 papers propose Sonia’s name
Jitendra may throw in hat
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Oct 28 — Seventyfour nomination papers, all proposing Mrs Sonia Gandhi as the Congress President, were filed before the Congress’ central election authority (CEA) here today.

The first to file papers was a team led by UPCC President Sriprakash Jaiswal. It was followed by leaders from several states including Karnataka, Orissa, Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Lakshadweep.

Several Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) Presidents, Congress Chief Ministers, Working Committee members and other senior leaders were present at 10 Janpath when leaders from various states and union territories obtained Mrs Gandhi’s consent and then filed the nominations with CEA chairman Ram Niwas Mirdha at the AICC Headquarters next door.

While a maximum of 15 nominations were filed on behalf of Mrs Gandhi for the top party post from Rajasthan, eight were filed from Bihar, six from Punjab and four each from Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

Two nominations each were filed from Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Manipur, while one nomination each were filed on behalf of Mrs Gandhi from Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Orissa and Pondhicherry.

According to Mr Mirdha, five joint nominations were made by delegates from different states. A nomination each was also filed by the Mahila Congress, the Seva Dal and Youth Congress delegates.

Tomorrow is the last date for filing nominations and more nominations are likely to be filed in favour of Mrs Gandhi, party sources said.

Senior party leader and CWC member Jitendra Prasada, who has been vocal on the need for free and fair elections and has alleged ‘manipulations’ in the voters lists, this evening gave enough indication of entering the fray.

Among the issues raised by Mr Prasada are inner party democracy, free, fair and impartial elections, autonomy and authority to all organs of the party, respect for the Congress constitution and dignity and respect to the grassroots worker.

Addressing a crowded press conference, Mr Prasada said he had no alternative but to continue the fight on issues (raised by him) to their “logical conclusion” sincerely.

Asked whether this meant he would contest for the top party position against Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Mr Prasada merely said “you do the interpretation”.

On the allegations levelled by him that the delegates lists from various states, especially Uttar Pradesh, been “manipulated”, Mr Prasada said: “I leave it to the Congress workers all over the country to judge for themselves as to what extent the elections are being held in a free, fair and impartial manner.”

“The non-publication of the complete list of delegates till today is only one glaring example of the sorry state of affairs”, he said adding “I leave it to senior leaders to decide if all this is enhancing respect for the party and its democratic credentials”.

Though the mood at Mr Prasada’s residence this evening indicated that he would not allow unanimous election of Mrs Gandhi as the party chief, he left enough room for a ‘face-save’ situation saying “contest is a healthy exercise, but unanimity is the best one.”

The mood at Mrs Gandhi’s residence and the AICC headquarters here was festive. Thousands of Congressmen from different states had assembled there since early morning. They raised slogans in favour of Mrs Gandhi.

The large PCC delegates, who came state-wise, provided a festive look with drum beating, dancing and bhangra, even as several Congressmen preferred to hold placards and banners with Sonia’s picture.

Workers of the Youth Congress, the Mahila Congress and the NSUI showed their support to Mrs Gandhi by wearing T-shirts with her colour picture printed on these.

The entire Akbar Road was closed to traffic as hundreds of cars, jeeps and other vehicles virtually choked the road. Heavy security arrangements were made by the local police to ward off any untoward incident.

Among the senior leaders who were present at 10, Janpath pledging support to Mrs Gandhi were Mr Pranab Mukherjee, Mr K. Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy, Mr R.K. Dhawan, Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, Karnataka Chief Minister S.M. Krishna, Delhi Chief Minister Mrs Shiela Dikshit, Nagaland Chief Minister S.C. Jamir, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Mukut Mithi, Mr Arjun Singh, Mr S.C. Shukla, Mr V.C. Shukla, Mr N.D. Tewari, Mr P.M. Sayeed and Dr Girija Vyas.

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