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Congress president election: Suspense prevails over Gandhis’ ‘candidate of choice’ hours before nominations close

Congress President polls: Nomination papers can be submitted between 11 am and 3 pm, said Congress central election authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry.

Congress president election: Suspense prevails over Gandhis’ ‘candidate of choice’ hours before nominations close
Congress opposition Leader Malikarjun Kharge. (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey | File Image)

With just hours to go before the deadline for nominations to the post of Congress president ends, there is no clarity yet on who will be the choice of the high command to contest the polls, the first in two decades. While Kerala MP Shashi Tharoor is certain to file his nomination before the deadline ends at 3 PM today, there are indications that former Madhya Pradesh CM Digvijaya Singh may bow out of the race.

Singh, who collected the nomination papers on Thursday and said he may file it today, is likely to be replaced by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, with the blessings of the Gandhi family.

Also Read: Congress President polls: Mallikarjun Kharge likely to emerge as new contender for top post

Kharge, sources said, was likely to step down from his party position in Parliament in the event of his election as Congress president. There is speculation that Singh may replace him as LoP in Rajya Sabha, reports news agency PTI.

A tent has been set up at the lawns of the AICC headquarters in New Delhi, and nomination papers can be submitted between 11 AM and 3 PM. By evening, it will be clear who all will finally contest the Congress president polls.

“We are fully prepared to hold the elections for party’s president post. Any person can submit his nomination form between 11am and 3pm today,” Congress central election authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry said.

At the moment, the only name to have been finalised as running for the Congress president post is Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor.

Digvijaya Singh, who had opted out of the race, only to take a U-turn, and join the race again, met Kharge and KC Venugopal this morning. It is still not clear what transpired at the meeting.

The drama ahead of the nominations comes a day after Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who earlier announced that he would be contesting the polls, said that he has opted out of the race, citing “moral responsibility” after the political turmoil in the Rajasthan crisis where Gehlot’s loyalists openly rebelled over the possible change of guard in the state.

Also Read: Will Congress sack Ashok Gehlot as Rajasthan CM? Sonia Gandhi’s decision in a day or two, says KC Venugopal

It was speculated that former Rajasthan deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot would have been elevated to the post of CM in the state, as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had made it clear that the party will follow the “one man, one post” norm. This meant that had Gehlot would have to step down as CM in the event of his election as Congress president.

Elections for the post will take place on October 17 and results will be declared on October 19.

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