With less a month left for the keenly-awaited election for Congress president, chorus is growing louder in the party day by day for Rahul Gandhi to take over reins of the grand-old-party with at least 11 state units passing a resolution for his elevation to the top post.
As Rahul Gandhi is yet to made up his mind, two names—Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and MP Shashi Tharoor—are doing the rounds for the contest of top post. Gehlot has signaled that he will contest the Congress chief polls if Rahul Gandhi doesn’t do so while Sonia Gandhi has approved Tharoor’s candidature.
Gehlot met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday in the national capital. Sources said the Congress presidential poll was on the agenda during the discussions between Gehlot and Sonia Gandhi, news agency PTI reported.
The process of filing nominations for organisational elections will begin on September 24 and will end on September 30. Congress will hold polls to elect its president on October 17. The last date for withdrawal of nominations is October 8 and the votes will be counted on October 19.
If no one from the Nehru-Gandhi family or any other party leader contest the election, then it appears Gehlot is locked in a dual with Tharoor. However, Congress is yet to made the official announcement.
If the dual contest takes place, there are four reasons why Gehlot has an edge over Tharoor.
Nehru-Gandhi Family Loyalist
Considered close Nehru-Gandhi family, Gehlot has been consulted both by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi on crucial matters. The Rajasthan CM was one of prominent faces who hit the streets when Rahul Gandhi was summoned by Enforcement Directorate several times in connection with the National Herald money laundering case. Congress has also appointed Gehlot as senior observer for Gujarat where the state Assembly elections is due later this year. According to some reports, Gandhis have asked Gehlot to contest the elections for president post.
On the other hand, Tharoor was one of vocal voices of G-23 Congress leaders who sent a letter to Sonia Gandhi demanding sweeping reforms in the party and transparency in decision-making process.
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Gehlot has spent over four decades in politics at national-level and in Rajasthan. He was handpicked by Indira Gandhi and made him a union minister in early 70s. Gehlot is also the general secretary of All India Congress Committee.
Comparatively to Gehlot, Tharoor is relatively a new entrant who joined the party in 2009. He is a Member of Parliament from Thiruvananthapuram since 2009. Tharoor is also the chairperson of All India Professional’s Congress (AIPC).
Gehlot is presently in the third term as the chief minister of Rajasthan (1998-2003, 2008-2013, and 2018-present). He has also served as union minister under Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and PV Narsimha Rao.
Tharoor served as union minister twice for a brief period—from May 2009 to April 2010 as Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs and October 2012 to May 2014 as MoS for Human Resource Development. He has authored over 20 books and served in the UN for nearly 30 years in different capacities.
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Gehlot has managed to stay away from controversies while Tharoor landed in trouble several times. According to a TOI report, Tharoor resigned from his ministerial post in 2010 over allegations of misusing his position to buy shares in an IPL cricket franchise. After his wife died in mysterious circumstances in 2014, Tharoor was charged with abetment to suicide of his wife. However, he was acquitted of all charges in 2021.
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