Sonia Gandhi builds suspense over Congress night watchman poll


Central Election Authority of Congress calling on Sonia Gandhi

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, September 29: Congress dissidents were in huddle on Thursday evening, as working president of Sonia Gandhi continued to drag the suspense over the president election in the party. Shashi Tharoor remains the only confirmed candidate, yet Digvijaya Singh, Pawan Bansal have reportedly collected the nomination papers.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot seemed relieved that played his politics well by enacting the Jaipur drama to scuttle Sachin Pilot from succeeding him, while also getting out by hit-wicket by patronising defiance of the party high command.

The post of Chief Minister in Rajasthan for another one year at least was far better for him than standing a watchman till the 2024 Lok Sabha elections for Rahul Gandhi to take stance as the Congress chief.

Former deputy leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma held the huddle of G23 at his residence on Thursday evening, with leaders such as Manish Tewari, Prithvi Raj Chauhan, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and others. Their task is clear that they have to either back the Thiruvananthpuram MP Shashi Tharoor or field a better candidate in the fray.

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath sized up the game well, and chose to play on his turf than to idle away his last few years in the Delhi politics. But he has pushed Digvijaya Singh, another former state Chief Minister, on the forefront, as he has also picked up the nomination papers.

The Congress observers are taking it for granted that the candidate who would have the blessings of the Gandhis would have a cakewalk in the election for the president of the party.

However, the Congress units of Punjab Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Goa, North-eastern states and a few more may not have an unconditional commitment to the Gandhis on the grounds that the electoral weight of the first family of the party is worth weighing precious metals such as gold only. That could spring surprise in the outcome of the polls, which may explain the Gandhis sweating it out with the likes of AK Antony to get the president poll monkey off its back.

Tharoor and Digvijaya Singh lack mass appeal. But Tharoor has energy and eloquence to connect with the younger electorate, while his image of being an advocate of India’s glorious past has resonance with the people brimming with nationalism. Digvijaya Singh should ideally have taken retirement from politics after he couldn’t stop Congress being out of power for not less than 18 years in Madhya Pradesh.

Whoever becomes the next non-Gandhi president, for the ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra is a proof that the main player – Rahul Gandhi – is being groomed for a re-launch.

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