‘If not Rahul, then next best is Ashok Gehlot for Congress chief post’

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By Alka Jain

New Delhi, September 22: There is a growing clarion call for Rahul Gandhi to return as Congress president, with several state units passing resolutions to call upon him to take the responsibility.

But it appears that Rahul Gandhi would stay away from the electoral fray for party chief’s post.

Senior leaders Ashok Gehlot, Shashi Tharoor, and Digvijay Singh are the likely contenders for the topmost position of the grand old party.

Rajasthan Congress leaders also back Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot for the party president post, while also maintaining that Rahul Gandhi will remain their main leader, who has a huge following among the people in the country.

“If Rahul Gandhi does not contest the party president post, then we believe that Ashok Gehlot can be the next best choice for the position. He is an experienced and mass political leader. He is also called Congress ‘Jadugar’ and ‘Chanakya’. I believe he can be the perfect fit,” said Nitin Agarwal, National Coordinator of the All India Congress Committee (AICC).

He, however, added that Congress always follows a fair and democratic election process to choose the party president.

“So, it is an individual choice to elect the Congress President, whether it is Shashi Tharoor or Ashok Gehlot, if Rahul Gandhi does not file nomination papers,” Agarwal told The Raisina Hills.

Congress leaders also said that Rahul Gandhi is the mass leader who has a vast following and can turn the party’s bad times into good times. Agarwal asserted that all party leaders have faith in Rahul Gandhi for reviving the organization, because he is a responsible leader.

“He (Rahul Gandhi) solely took the responsibility for party’s debacle in Lok Sabha elections in 2019 and quit his post of Congress president. Since then, he has been continuously working hard for the party’s revival despite leaving the position,” added Agarwal.

He cited the example of the ongoing ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. “He is heading this padayatra and numerous people are following and supporting him. We believe he is the only one who can turn the party’s bad times into good times,” said Agarwal, who is also party in-charge for Maharashtra and Goa.

On why Rahul Gandhi is the only choice of all Congress leaders for the party’s president post despite facing huge criticism for losses in polls, Agarwal said: “He (Rahul Gandhi) is the mass leader, so it is very obvious to face criticism. And every party member is responsible for Congress’ defeat in elections, not only Rahul Gandhi.”

Congress national coordinator further said that these are only speculations, and the final names of contestants for the party’s president post are likely to be revealed around September 26.

The elections for the Congress president post will take place on October 17 followed by the counting of votes as well as final results on October 19. The process of filing the nomination papers will take place from September 24 to September 30.

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