New Delhi: Over 9,000 Congress members would vote to elect the next party President, election for which would be held after a long gap 22 years on October 17.
In the last such election that was held in 2000, current interim President Sonia Gandhi had defeated Jitendra Prasada, who managed just 94 out of 7,542 votes.
Prior to that, Sitaram Kesri had defeated Sharad Pawar and Rajesh Pilot by securing 6,224 votes. Pawar had secured 882 votes, while Pilot got 354 votes.
Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi has, however, declined to run for the party chief’s post this time even as efforts are on to persuade him.
Senior leaders such as Mallikarjun Kharge and Salman Khurshid have said that they will try to convince Rahul Gandhi on the matter.
Ahead of the notification on the election, some Congress leaders have raised the issue of electoral rolls, saying it should be made public.
Party leaders such as Anand Sharma, Manish Tewari, Karti Chidambaram and Shashi Tharoor have already expressed their opinion on the issue of electoral rolls.
They have urged the party’s Central Election Authority (CEA), headed by senior Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry, to make the electoral rolls public by making them available on the Congress website.
However, the CEA has said that these rolls would be made available only to the candidates contesting the poll.
Congress General Secretary (Organisation), K.C. Venugopal, said that it (the list) is an internal matter and hence, it cannot be made public.
“The schedule for the party chief’s election has already been announced, and those who want to contest for the post should file the nomination before September 30,” he said.
Underlining the need of a well-defined electoral college, Karti Chidambaram said any ad hoc electoral college is meaningless.
He said: “Every election needs a well defined and clear electoral college. The process of forming the electoral college must also be clear, well defined and transparent. An ad hoc electoral college is no electoral college.”
Leaders of the Congress’ G-23 camp are also planning to contest the presidential polls slated for October 17 with former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan being considered as “key candidates”, sources said.
However, there was no clarity on the situation while the G-23, which had sought wide-ranging reforms in the party that has lately been hit by the departure of senior leaders such as Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal and others.
Tharoor had apparently dropped hints on contesting for the top party post in an article on Monday but has not clearly indicated if he would be jumping into the fray.
According to party sources, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has emerged front-runner for the post of the Congress President — being seen as choice of interim chief Sonia Gandhi even as some want the return of Rahul Gandhi.
Interestingly, Gehlot has also proposed the Gandhi scion’s name. Keeping that in mind, the G-23 was understood to had decided to filed a candidate if no Gandhi stands in the poll for Congress president.
However, it remains to be seen if the G-23 camp would do so as Sonia Gandhi’s choice is unlikely to be challenged.
According to poll schedule, the date of issuance of notification is September 22, while nominations can be filed between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. from September 24 to 30. The scrutiny will be done on October 1. The last date of withdrawal is October 8.
The polling would be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on October 17 at all Pradesh Congress Committee headquarters.
The counting of votes will be held on October 19.