As Rahul Gandhi remains reluctant, the fray for the Congress president post is likely to be between party MP Shashi Tharoor and Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot.
Ashok Gehlot, who was reportedly asked by party interim chief Sonia Gandhi to contest for the top Congress post, met Rajasthan Congress MLAs Tuesday evening to indicate that he would run for the election in case Rahul Gandhi does not, as per Indian Express.
Gehlot told the MLAs he was a “loyal” Congressman and would meet Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday. He added he would also travel to Kerala to meet Rahul Gandhi, who is leading the party’s Bharat Jodo Yatra there, to convince him “one last time” to contest the Congress president election.
The development comes a day after Shashi Tharoor met Sonia Gandhi, who as per media reports gave him a green signal to throw his hat in the ring.
A party leader told Indian Express that the interim chief has assured Tharoor she would “stay neutral” in the upcoming presidential polls.
Meanwhile, Congress general secretary KC Venugopal told reporters that Rahul Gandhi will decide if he will contest the election, adding that he “has not told us anything”, News18 reported.
With the notification for the Congress president election due on 22 September, let’s have a look at the poll schedule and how the party chief is elected:
How is the Congress president elected?
The grand old party’s president is elected by Indian National Congress (INC) delegates.
The Congress constitution defines INC delegates as “all members of the Pradesh Congress Committees (PCC)”.
As per News18, there is a delegate per block in each state. The blocks, which are notified by the government, in all the states have different numbers of PCC delegates.
The INC delegates elect the Congress president from the nominees. As per Article XVIII of the Congress constitution, “any ten delegates may jointly propose the name of any delegate for election as president of the Congress.”
The chairman of the Central Election Authority (CEA) is the ex-Officio Returning Officer for the presidential election, who publishes the names of all candidates for the party chief post.
Nominees have seven days’ time to take back their names and after the withdrawal, the list of the remaining candidates is sent to each state unit of the party (PCC).
If only one candidate remains after the withdrawal, then that person is declared the Congress president.
If there is more than one candidate left, then each INC delegate votes for their preferred candidate. In the case of only two candidates, the delegates choose between them.
If there are more than two candidates, the delegates have to mention at least two preferences on the voting paper.
The counting of votes is done by the Returning Officer.
The candidate with more than 50 per cent of the first preferences votes becomes the Congress president.
According to ThePrint, the electoral college has about 9,000 PCC members currently.
Who are PCC members?
Every Block Congress Committee elects a delegate to the PCC by secret ballot.
PCC members also consist of ex-presidents of the state units who have completed a full term of 365 days and have continued to be members of the party, as well as presidents of the District Congress Committees (DCCs) who are not eligible to become either president or secretary of the PCC.
Moreover, AICC members who reside in the state, members elected by the Congress Legislature party (CLP), and members appointed by the PCC executive from “special elements not adequately represented” as defined by the rules of the Working Committee of the party are also PCC members, as per the Congress constitution.
Congress president election dates
After the notification for the Congress presidential election is out on Thursday, interested candidates can file their nominations from 24 to 30 September.
The last day to withdraw the nomination is 8 October. After withdrawal, if need be, then elections will be held on 17 October.
The results of the Congress presidential election will be declared on 19 October.
Past Congress presidential elections
In the past 40 years, the election to the Congress post in a true sense has been held only twice.
In 2000, Jitendra Prasada had challenged Sonia Gandhi for the top post. Sonia had clocked a massive win with 7,448 votes against Prasada’s 94.
In 1997, Sitaram Kesri had a landslide victory against Sharad Pawar and Rajesh Pilot.
Since 2000, Sonia has been at the helm unopposed, only to give way for her son Rahul who was the Congress president from 2017-2019.
With inputs from agencies