Rahul ‘sole contender’ for Cong chief post as Tharoor seeks poll

Rahul ‘sole contender’ for Cong chief post as Tharoor seeks poll

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, FebRUARY 20

The Congress has started preparing ground for the return of Rahul Gandhi as party president with top sources today saying he is the sole contender in the race.

“There is only one person in the race for the post of Congress president. That person is Rahul Gandhi,” a top AICC functionary said today briefly after party MP Shashi Tharoor publicly renewed his call for elections to the top post.

At least three senior Congress leaders privy to goings on in the party and organisational affairs said today Rahul Gandhi was the only candidate who fitted the acceptability criterion critical for a leader who succeeds Sonia Gandhi in the party chief’s chair.

“We have to retain the homogeneity of the party first. Rahul Gandhi is the only person who will be acceptable to every party worker and leader from Mizoram to Puducherry,” said an AICC official, citing the multiple challenges of present times, from ideological to electoral. Rahul Gandhi had resigned as party president taking responsibility for the Congress debacle in the Lok Sabha elections.

Although he had categorically stated to the Congress Working Committee that his successor should be a non Gandhi, the CWC ignored his call and named Sonia Gandhi as interim chief.

The Congress has since been awaiting a final leadership arrangement with preparations for an AICC Plenary underway.

Although the timeline for the AICC session is unclear, top Congress leaders today said “it was a matter of time before Rahul Gandhi returned as party president because he had no competition.”

Asked how Rahul would reconcile to being party chief after himself arguing for a non Gandhi president, a senior Congress leader said, “He has to lead and he has to be persuaded to lead. Party's acceptability in these issues matters. It is for the workers and leaders to choose their president.”

That said, not everyone in the Congress is enthused by prospects of persuading Gandhi to return after he voluntarily quit. Tharoor today said, “I renew my appeal to the CWC to hold leadership elections to energise workers and inspire voters.”

AICC media head Randeep Surjewala however snubbed Tharoor, saying “the CWC had unanimously nominated Sonia Gandhi as interim chief after Rahul Gandhi resigned. If anyone has suspicions in that respect I advise them to read the CWC resolution”. Another Congress leader said unanimity was the best form of elections.

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