Even as several Pradesh Congress Committees in the country adopt resolutions demanding that Rahul Gandhi take over as the Party President of the disintegrating Congress Party, Rahul Gandhi reportedly has declined to take up the position. However as Shashi Tharoor gears up to contest the internal party polls to be the next party president, top Congress sources tell Vibes of India that Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is a more acceptable face than Tharoor. The chorus in North India and two South Indian States is that if it is not Rahul Gandhi, it should be Ashok Gehlot.
Meanwhile, Sonia Gandhi met Madhusudan Mistry, a Gujarat Congress leader and said she was all for free and fair elections. She reportedly said she would adopt an absolutely neutral stand in case there was a contest. In fact, according to a source, she said she welcomed the contest.
Earlier this week, Ashok Gehlot said that he was hoping that Rahul Gandhi changes his mind. If Rahul sticks to his decision of not contesting, Ashok Gehlot will step in. Tharoor has already said he is keen to contest. The Congress party will then witness a contest for the Party President’s post. It will be after 22 years that there is a contest for the post. Otherwise, it has been Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi as the Party president and they have been elected unanimously without any contest. Sonia Gandhi, according to a leader close to Tharoor, spent 40 minutes with Shashi Tharoor. Tharoor is one of the G 23 leaders who want a change in the Congress party. Sonia Gandhi faced a contest from Jitendra Singh in 2000. Mrs Gandhi became the Party President in 1998.
Party leaders also said that Sonia did not discourage Tharoor from contesting when he said he was considering it, and told her why.
“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. Nobody needs anybody’s nod to contest,” AICC communications head Jairam Ramesh said.
That Tharoor is gearing up to contest the polls became quite clear after he endorsed a petition by a group of young Congress members seeking “constructive reforms” and implementation of the Udaipur Declaration in its entirety, if elected. “I welcome this petition that is being circulated by a group of young @INCIndia members, seeking constructive reforms in the party. It has gathered over 650 signatures so far,” Tharoor tweeted, with screenshots of the petition.
The petitioners said that as Congress members, they wanted “to strengthen the party to reflect the hopes and aspirations of our nation”, and referred to the Udaipur Declaration, at the party’s Chintan Shivir on May 15. “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 and implement the Udaipur Declaration in entirety in the first 100 days of assuming office,” the petition said.
On Monday, four more PCCs – of Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra – as well as the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee joined Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat in passing resolutions backing Rahul as party chief. Vibes of India could not ascertain whether the PCCs are adopting these resolutions at the behest of any central leader or whether they were voluntarily passed at the local State level.
It must be noted that so far Kerala and Madhya Pradesh are the only PCCs which have passed another resolution. Unlike other State units, they did not pass a resolution seeking Rahul as the Congress Party President but they passed the other resolution authorising the interim Congress president to appoint state Congress presidents and nominate AICC delegates for the presidential election – which is required to be done before the poll as per the Congress constitution.
Bihar PCC president Madan Mohan Jha said a resolution favouring Rahul for the top post was passed “unanimously” by the state unit on Monday, and that this was “in the interest of the nation and the party”.
On Rahul not being keen, Jha said: “It is our job to request him. It is my responsibility to bring to his knowledge the sentiments and feelings of workers and leaders. I got the signatures of those present on a resolution and am sending it to him. The rest is in his hands.”
In its “unanimous” resolution, proposed by state unit chief K S Alagiri, the Tamil Nadu PCC said national politics was witnessing an “abnormal scenario” of communal politics. In order to “rescue” people and to ensure the victory of secular, democratic forces in the 2024 Lok Sabha election, it was imperative that Rahul take over the reins of the party, the resolution said.