[ Bengia Ajum ]
ITANAGAR, 23 Sep: India’s grand old party, the Congress, is going to elect its new president in the next one month. The election to the Congress president’s post has become fascinating as the Gandhis, who are considered to be the backbone of the party, will not stand for the post this time. With interim president Sonia Gandhi making it clear that she will not continue due to health issues, former president and her son Rahul Gandhi has also refused to stand for the post. As the Gandhis are keeping away from the election, several candidates have thrown in their hats into the ring.
Names like Shashi Tharoor, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Manish Tiwari, Digvijay Singh, Kamal Nath, etc, are doing the rounds on the media. But it is believed that the fight will come down to Ashok Gehlot vs Shashi Tharoor if a consensus is not developed. This battle is very interesting, considering the fact that Gehlot is rooted in the Nehruvian ideology. Born in 1951, Gehlot is a staunch loyalist of the Congress and the Gandhis. He is a three-time chief minister of Rajasthan. It is believed that a large chunk of Congress workers and leaders support him. They believe that only an experienced leader who came through the ranks of the party can take on the powerful duo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. On another hand, the young brigade in the party sees Shashi Tharoor as someone who can lead the party to a new era and attract young urban voters. Tharoor, who is a former diplomat, joined the Congress in 2009. He has the ability to draw young voters and is hugely popular among the youths.
However, his name figured in the death of his late wife Sunanda Puskar and he was also accused of using his position to buy an IPL team. Unlike his controversial figure, Gehlot has a clean image.
For now, Gehlot has an edge, but in an election, nothing is for sure until the result is out. A total of 61 people have served as the president of the Indian National Congress since its formation. This is not the first time that an election will be held for the post of the Congress president. Jitendra Prasada had lost to Sonia Gandhi in 2000, and prior to that, Sitaram Kesri had defeated Sharad Pawar and Rajesh Pilot in 1997. The campaigning for the Congress presidential election, which will be held on 17 October, has started.
Altogether 9,000 delegates will vote to elect the new president. It is rare in India to witness an election to elect the leader of any political party. Even in the BJP, most of the time the party president is selected through consensus.
The process of filing nominations for the organisational elections in the Congress begins on 24 September and will end on 30 September. The last date for withdrawal of nominations is 8 October and the election, if required, will be held on 17 October. The first president of the Congress party in independent India was Pattabhi Sitaraimayya, who was a doctor by profession and was elected as the party chief in the Jaipur session in 1948. Sitaram Kesri was the last non-Gandhi to lead the party.