Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot To Contest Congress President Polls, Says ‘No Gandhi Will Be The Next Chief’

The election for the Congress presidential post is scheduled to be held on October 17. Counting will be done on October 19.

Ashok Gehlot
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. (Photo: PTI file)

New Delhi: Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot has revealed that he will contest the election. He will be working for Congress ideology. He further confirmed no Gandhi will contest in the election. Gehlot with all speculations has confirmed that he will contest the upcoming Congress president polls.

“Congress General Secretary Ajay Maken & party President Sonia Gandhi will decide the further proceedings if I become the party president,” stated Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot.

“I have requested him (Congress MP Rahul Gandhi) multiple times to accept everyone’s proposal of becoming the Congress President. He made it clear that no one from the Gandhi family should become the next chief,” said Gehlot.

Gehlot further added, “It’s decided that I’ll contest (for the post of Congress President). I’ll fix the date soon (to file his nomination). It’s a need for the Opposition to be strong, looking at the current position of the country.”

Earlier, Congress leader Gourav Vallabh on Thursday hit out at Shashi Tharoor over his probable AICC president poll bid, saying his “only major contribution” to the party was to send letters to Sonia Gandhi when she was hospitalised.

In the first indicator of leaders taking sides in the upcoming contest for the top post, Vallabh also voiced support for another likely contender, Gehlot, who many believe has the backing of the current leadership.

However, Congress president Sonia is learnt to have told both Gehlot and Tharoor that she would remain “neutral” in the polls. “The choice is very simple and clear,” said Vallabh on Twitter. In a late night tweet, Tharoor posted former US president Theodore Roosevelt’s famous speech known as “The Man in the Arena”.

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“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena… who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat,” Roosevelt said in the speech posted by Tharoor.

Many saw the post by Tharoor as his response to Vallabh and other critics, as well as a reference to his probable All India Congress Committee (AICC) presidential post run. Vallabh is also a party spokesperson but he asserted his comments were as a Congress worker and not spokesperson.

“Like crores of workers, my first wish is that Rahul Gandhi ji should provide his leadership to the Congress and the country. But if Rahul Gandhi ji remains steadfast on his decision (of not taking up the Congress chief post) and one has to choose between the two names that are appearing in public discussion, then there is no comparison between the two,” Vallabh said in a series of tweets in Hindi.

On one hand, there is Gehlot who has the experience of being a Union minister, three times chief minister, five times MP, five times MLA, and who has defeated Narendra Modi-Amit Shah in a direct contest and who has had 45 years of “spotless” political life, he said.

“On the other hand there is Tharoor sahib who has made only one major contribution to the party in the last eight years — sent letters to Congress President Sonia Gandhi ji when she was hospitalised, this act caused pain to crores of party workers like me. The choice is very simple and clear,” he said.

Vallabh’s remarks were a reference to the letter sent by a group of 23 leaders, including Tharoor, to Sonia in 2020 seeking large scale reforms in the party. The race for the Congress president’s post hotted up on Wednesday with Gehlot giving a clear indication that he could enter the poll fray and Tharoor meeting the party’s poll panel chief to enquire about the nomination formalities.

After over two decades, the Congress is set to see a contest for the post of party chief. Gehlot and Tharoor are being seen as the likely contenders. The Congress’ central election authority on Thursday issued a notification for the AICC president polls, setting the ball rolling for electing the successor to the longest-serving party chief Sonia Gandhi.

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According to the notification, the process for filing nominations for the election will be held from September 24 to 30. The date of scrutiny of the nomination papers would be on October 1, while the last date of withdrawal of nominations would be October 8. The election, if there is more than one candidate, will take place on October 17. The counting of votes and the declaration of results would be on October 19.

(With Inputs from PTI)