The Congress party is struggling for clarity on the path ahead for the election of a new party president with the one-month window for the process coming into effect on Sunday. The party had announced last year that the new Congress president will be elected between August 21 and September 20.
However, the reluctance of Congress heir apparent Rahul Gandhi to contest and return as president has led to a delay in the announcement of a date-wise schedule for the poll process. According to The Indian Express, Congress leaders believe that the schedule for the election could be announced sometime next week, if not later.
The stalemate has also led to a sense of uncertainty among the leaders of the party. While one section back the idea of Sonia Gandhi continuing as party president going into the Lok Sabha elections in 2024, another faction wants someone from outside the Gandhi family to take over while others see Rahul as the best bet and are in favour of convincing him to return to the helm.
According to The Indian Express, Rahul has conveyed in no uncertain terms that he is not in favour of anyone from the family leading the party. A state unit president of the Congress who spoke to the newspaper said that efforts are still on to persuade Rahul to contest. However, if he remains adamant, the party would then urge Sonia to continue. If the latter is the case, she can appoint vice presidents for different regions to assist her, the leader said, adding that it would help keep the party united.
“The next ten days are going to be crucial for the party,” he said.
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The G23 group of dissenters are also believed to have readied a plan if Rahul and Sonia do not run for the post, but field a family loyalist. “Preparations are on to field a candidate. Wait and watch. We cannot let the four-man cabal run the AICC the way they are running now,” one G23 leader told IE.
The uncertainty and divide within the Congress comes ahead a mass contact programme the party has planned next month. the outreach will see Rahul lead a Bharat Yatra from September 7 and hold a rally at the Ramlila ground on September 4. “He will be on the ground leading the padayatra walking 15-20 kilometres everyday… taking on and attacking the BJP,” one leader said.