Shashi Tharoor vs Ashok Gehlot In Race For Congress President: 10 Points

New Delhi: Senior Congress leader and one of the most ardent advocates of change in the party, Shashi Tharoor, has got the nod from party chief Sonia Gandhi to run for president in next month’s internal election. His opponent will be Ashok Gehlot, sources said.

Here’s your 10-point cheatsheet in this big story:

  1. Mr Tharoor — the first to throw his hat in the ring — had earlier hinted at running for Congress president. Sources said Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, also seen as a Gandhi family loyalist, will visit Delhi On October 25 and file his nomination the next day.
  2. Sonia Gandhi, the party’s interim president, green-lighted the matter shortly after she met Shashi Tharoor and a few others on her return following a medical check-up abroad.
  3. Mrs Gandhi had taken over as the interim chief of the party after her son, Rahul Gandhi, had stepped down from the post after the 2019 elections defeat, with the understanding that the matter would be settled through elections shortly.
  4. Rahul Gandhi, who is currently leading the party’s “Bharat Jodo” yatra, is insistent on his refusal to contest, despite repeated demands from a section of key leaders. Mr Gehlot has been one of the leaders pressing for his return.
  5. Spurred by the Gandhi family loyalists, Congress units in three states have called for Mr Gandhi’s nomination as the chief – supporting the suspicion of many that the Gandhis would retain control of the party with or without an election. More such requests are likely to come in as the election gets closer.
  6. Originally a member of the group of 28 leaders who demanded an organisational overhaul, Shashi Tharoor has been keeping tabs on the election process since.
  7. Last week, he was among the leaders who sought “transparency and fairness” in the poll process in a letter to the AICC central election authority. He was also among the leaders who asked that the list of voters be made public.
  8. This morning, Mr Tharoor had signed a petition by a group of young party members calling for a revamp. The petition had referred to the party’s “Udaipur declaration” made in May, which commits to fair elections and rules like one candidate per family and one person per post, besides a five-year cap on party posts.
  9. The elections for the post of the Congress president will be held next month after a two-year-long back and forth on the subject. The filing of nominations for the post of the president begins in three days.
  10. The elections will take place against the backdrop of exits by a number of key leaders over the last year – including Kapil Sibal, Jaiveer Shergill, Sunil Jakhar, Amarinder Singh, RPN Singh, Ashwani Kumar and Hardik Patel. The latest on the list is senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, whose exit was followed by most leaders of the party’s Jammu and Kashmir unit.

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