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Shashi Tharoor, Running For Congress President

Palakkad: Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Monday claimed he has the support of party workers from across the country for his bid to fight the AICC president polls. Amid uncertainty over Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s candidature for the top party post, Mr Tharoor also met Rahul Gandhi on the sidelines of Bharat Jodo Yatra at Pattambi in Palakkad in north Kerala. Mr Tharoor said it was a courtesy call as Mr Gandhi was in his home district.

“You will see the support I enjoy when I submit my nomination paper. I will be in the fray if I get support from party workers from the majority of the states. So many people from different parts of the country have requested me to be in the fray,” Mr Tharoor told reporters, reacting to a query on his candidature for the Congress president’s post.

Mr Tharoor said he was interested in fighting the poll but the picture will be clearer only after September 30, the last date for submitting nomination papers.

The Thiruvananthapuram MP, who got the nomination form for the poll collected from the Congress headquarters last Saturday, said a candidate should fight the polls with confidence.

“I have got the form. I am meeting people and talking to them”, he said.

Asked whether he has the support of the Nehru-Gandhi family in fighting the polls, the Congress leader said he had discussed the matter with Sonia Gandhi, Rahul, and Priyanka, and “and all three have directly told me that they don’t have any issues”. He also claimed the support of party workers in Kerala in his bid to fight the polls.

Mr Tharoor had met Sonia Gandhi last Monday and expressed his intention to contest the poll.

The Congress president conveyed she would stay “neutral” in the elections, according to sources.

Sonia Gandhi had welcomed the idea of more people contesting the poll and dispelled the notion that there would be an “official candidate”.

According to a notification issued by the party on Thursday, the process for filing nominations for the election will be held from September 24 to 30.

The date for scrutiny of the nomination papers is October 1, while the last date for withdrawal of nominations is October 8.

The final list of candidates will be published at 5 pm on October 8. The polling, if needed, will be held on October 17.

The counting of votes will be taken up on October 19 and the results will be declared the same day.

More than 9,000 Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) delegates will vote in the poll.

The Congress last saw a contest for the party president’s post in November 2000.

Jitendra Prasada had lost to Sonia Gandhi in 2000 and prior to that, Sitaram Kesri had defeated Sharad Pawar and Rajesh Pilot in 1997.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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