Gehlot confirms Congress president poll bid, says 'Gandhis won't contest'
A day after meeting senior leader Rahul Gandhi, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot confirmed that no member of the Gandhi family will be contesting the upcoming polls for the Indian National Congress (INC) president. The Gandhi family loyalist, also the front runner in the race, confirmed that he will file his nomination soon, and may reportedly battle other senior leaders for the post.
- The grand old party will hold presidential elections in October and, in all likelihood, may get a non-Gandhi leader at its helm.
- While Gehlot is being viewed as the 'Gandhi family' candidate, others, such as the 'G-23 dissenter' Shashi Tharoor, will also file their nominations.
- The elections have reignited the wheels of action in Congress, which has been beset by internal strife for months.
Departing from the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Kerala on Friday, Gehlot said that despite "multiple requests," Gandhi refused to contest the post. "He told me he had decided that no one from the Gandhi family should become the next chief," he told ANI. The Wayanad MP reportedly also insisted on a non-Gandhi president, a first for the party in over 20 years.
#WATCH | Kerala: "I have requested him (Congress MP Rahul Gandhi) multiple times to accept everyone's proposal of becoming the Congress President. He made it clear that no one from the Gandhi family should become the next chief," said Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot pic.twitter.com/yEodA4l7fW— ANI (@ANI) September 23, 2022
The 71-year-old also confirmed that he will be filing his nomination soon. He told reporters, "It is decided that I will contest. I'll fix the date soon (to file the nomination). It's a need for the opposition to be strong." Congress president Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Ajay Maken will be deciding further proceedings if he wins, Gehlot said.
According to reports, Gehlot was keen on keeping his CM post even if elected party president. "One person can remain a minister and also be elected Congress president," he had told reporters earlier. However, the "double role" dream was shattered after a public snub by Rahul Gandhi who insisted on abiding by the party's 'one person, one post' rule discussed at Udaipur's Chintan Shivir.
Gandhi, who is traversing a 3,570km long Bharat Jodo Yatra, said, "We have made a commitment in Udaipur, I expect that the commitment will be maintained." He also advised candidates to consider it as an ideological post that represents "a belief system, a vision of India." Gehlot reportedly "fell in line" after the rebuke, and may give way to his rival Sachin Pilot.
The elections for Congress president are scheduled on October 17, despite speculation that a Gandhi family member would be re-elected. Party members can submit nominations from September 24 through September 30. The results will be announced on October 19, two days after the voting closes. Congress also made substantial modifications to its own election procedures last week.