Congress: Will contest Congress prez polls, no Gandhi in fray, says Ashok Gehlot

Congress stalwart Ashok Gehlot on Friday made it official that he would soon file the nomination for the Congress president’s post. Gehlot said his last-ditch efforts to “persuade” Rahul Gandhi to take over the party’s top post failed when Gandhi said neither he nor any of the Gandhi family members would contest for the post.

Gehlot said the incumbent Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and AICC in-charge of Rajasthan Ajay Maken would hold discussions and decide on the next CM of Rajasthan. With this, the stage is set for hectic lobbying between Gehlot’s nominees including BD Kalla, CP Joshi — or a surprise nominee — and the challenger Sachin Pilot for the chief ministership of Rajasthan as and when Gehlot steps down from the post that he has held for almost 14 years now in three separate terms.

“I will be filing the nomination for the Congress president’s election. I will decide the date soon,” Gehlot told reporters before he left Kochi for Jaipur. Gehlot, who went to Kochi to persuade Rahul Gandhi for ‘one last time’ said: “I requested Rahul Ji and told him that the Rajasthan unit and others have passed resolutions urging him to take over. I tried my best. He told me that he has made a decision and that none from the Gandhi family will contest. He made it clear.”

He added, “Rahul ji told me ‘I know they want me to be chief and I respect their wish, but I have decided, for a reason, that a non-Gandhi should be the Congress president”.

Stressing on the need to strengthen the Congress, he said: “The issue is about democracy. We all are going for a new beginning. The Opposition has to be strong in the present situation”. September 24-30 is the period for filing nominations. and Shashi Tharoor has already conveyed to Sonia Gandhi that he too is planning to enter the fray. Although widely considered to breeze through in the event of a contest, Gehlot refused to speak on it by urging one and all to wait for the election process, including the possibility of a contest. He said that even if there is a contest, the Congress would work unitedly after it.

Cure for Spokespersons’ Gehlot itch

After an AICC spokesperson Gaurav Vallabh already came out in support of Gehlot’s candidature and took pot-shots at Shashi Tharoor, and amid indications of more spokespersons straining at the leash to similarly register their ‘boundless admiration’ for their likely future Congress boss with a matching jibe at Tharoor, AICC in-charge of communication, Jairam Ramesh, is learned to have stepped in to tell party spokespersons to refrain from such individual shows and stick to their jobs.

According to Congress insiders, Ramesh communicated to his colleagues: “I would strongly urge all spokespersons and office-bearers of the communications department of AICC to refrain from making any comment of any kind on any colleague of ours contesting the elections for the post of Congress president. We all have our individual preferences but our job is to only highlight that the Congress is the only political party to have a democratic and transparent system in place for election to the post of its president.”

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