Congress said on Wednesday that no one needed permission from its President Sonia Gandhi or its leader Rahul Gandhi to participate in its presidential ballot, which is expected to be held next month if there is no consensus on who should lead the big old party.
AICC Secretary General in charge of Communications, Jairam Ramesh, speaking to the media during the break between the first and second leg of the Bharat Jodo Yatra days, said: “Anyone is free and welcome to stand for election if he has the support of 10 PCC delegates. “Nobody needs the President of Congress’s or Rahul Gandhi’s permission to file a candidacy. The elections will be fair and transparent. No other political party in the country holds elections to choose its party leader. At the same time, Ramesh also said that he believed in selecting the party chairman based on consensus according to the Kamraj model.
He invoked the “view” of legendary Congress leader K Kamaraj, which was to “talk to everyone and find a suitable consensus choice” to lead the party.
“If consensus is not possible, then elections are desirable. We are not running away from holding elections,” he said.
On who would be throwing their hats in the ring, Ramesh said he does not know who all will contest, but he certainly will not. He also said that he does not know whether Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot will file his nomination and, if he does, what will happen in that state.
“The Congress party has a system to deal with such situations,” he added.
“He has not met his mother for 2-3 weeks. He is also a human being. Will you not go and meet your mother if she is not well? According to the information I have now if he goes to Delhi, it will be to meet his mother and not to file the nomination,” Ramesh said.
Amidst the ongoing speculation over who all would contest in the Congress’ presidential polls, Gehlot — one of the possible top contenders for the post and a party choice — is expected to reach here in the evening to meet Rahul Gandhi.
Gehlot’s arch rival in Rajasthan politics and party leader Sachin Pilot is already in Kerala and was accompanying Gandhi on the first leg of the day’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, which halted at Edappally here close to 10 AM.
According to Congress party sources, Gehlot is expected to join the yatra on Thursday.
Gehlot is considered a frontrunner for the post as he is perceived to have the backing and confidence of the present dispensation and is likely to be challenged by a G-23 member Shashi Tharoor, who has expressed his desire to contest.
The Rajasthan CM, however, has denied that he is a candidate and said he would try to convince Gandhi to contest.
At the same time, he also told Congress MLAs a day ago that they will be asked to come to New Delhi if he decides to file his nomination for the party president election.
The poll process for the Congress president’s election will begin on September 22 with the notification issue, and the nomination filing will start from September 25 to 30. The election will be held on October 17, and the result will be out two days later.