Prominent Congress leader Shashi Tharoor looks to emerge as the front runner for the Congress Presidential Election amid the Rajasthan political storm.
Sources close to the former UN diplomat have revealed to The New Indian that Tharoor has garnered support from over nine states and has got the signatures of close to 50 delegates.
This revelation puts to rest all speculations doing rounds that Tharoor, who is a member of G23 and had written a letter to Sonia Gandhi in 2020 over the need for an active party chief, was likely to face resentment from a section of his own partymen.
In fact, he joined Rahul Gandhi in the Bharat Jodo Yatra once again on Monday. Pictures and videos of the duo have become a sensation on the internet even as the party is caught in a frenzy of sorts in the light of developments emerging from Rajasthan.
Tharoor, who represents the aspiring young professionals of the country and has a charismatic pull of his own, will be filing the nomination papers for the grand old party’s top post on September 30. That is also the last day of nomination.
The question that then rises is why is Tharoor waiting for the last day to file his nomination when he has already garnered overwhelming signatures to file his candidature. A source close to him confided that this is deliberate in order to garner further support before the nomination is filed. It is no secret that Tharoor is an “outsider” to Indian politics, and more so, to the grand old party which has been run largely by the Nehru-Gandhi family. A solid support base in the initial stage may thus be crucial to ensure his victory.
Tharoor’s representatives had collected the form on September 24 on his behalf. However, he had earlier met party Central Election Authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry and enquired about the process of campaign and elections.
According to a source close to Tharoor, the veteran leader is expected to get the signatures of about 70 delegates of the party from 12 to 14 states across the country.
The source said, “Tharoor had joined former Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday in Kerala and once again, he got the sense that the Gandhis are really committed to free and fair elections.”
The source said that the Gehlot fiasco seemed to suggest that people high-up had other agendas to promote an unofficial candidate. However, that fear was quashed following Tharoor’s meeting with Rahul Gandhi on Monday in which the latter is said to have assured Tharoor of neutrality and a free and fair election for the post of the Congress president.
The source said that Tharoor is filing the nomination on the last date so that he can amass as many signatures as possible from various states as he has got around 40 signatures of the delegates instead of only 10 required and he plans to go beyond that.
The source said that Tharoor feels that if someone is an outsider-challenger and widely expected to be crushed in the vote, a broad base of the vote is useful.
The source said that Tharoor has been approached by leading figures, including some prominent names from India’s literary and political circles, to contest for the post.
The source had earlier indicated that several letters and petitions were written to Tharoor to reignite hope in the demoralized party cadres.
Earlier, Gehlot was being touted to be the leadership’s choice for the top post. But Gehlot does not want to give up the role of Rajasthan Chief Minister. The recent political development in Rajasthan has only dented his chances for running for the top post.
On Sunday, as many as 90 MLAs of his camp had submitted their resignations opposing the choice of Sachin Pilot as Chief Minister. Gehlot, too, had met Rahul Gandhi in Kerala on Thursday during the 3,570 km long Bharat Jodo Yatra. Earlier, Rahul Gandhi, while addressing a press conference in Kerala’s Ernakulam, had made it clear that he backs the idea of “one man, one post” in the party. He added, “The party president’s post is not a position but a belief system that represents India.”
He had said: “The Congress president is not just an organization post, but an ideological one. Whoever becomes the Congress president should remember that he represents an idea, a belief system, and represents a vision of India.”
When asked about the “one man, one post” resolution passed by the party during the three-day Nav Sankalp Chintan Shivir in Rajasthan’s Udaipur, the Congress Lok Sabha MP from Wayanad said, “We have made a commitment in Udaipur, I expect that will be maintained.”
The Congress is witnessing an election for the top post after a gap of 21 years. Sonia Gandhi remained at the top post of the party for 18 years from 2000 to 2017. In 2017, Rahul Gandhi became the party chief, which he quit after the 2019 Lok Sabha election drubbing. Sonia Gandhi has been holding the post of interim Congress chief.
The Congress Working Committee, the highest decision-making body of the party, last month approved the new schedule of the elections for the party president.
As per the new schedule, the date of notification is September 22, and the candidates can file their nominations between September 24 and 30. The last date of withdrawal will be October 8.
The date of the election (if needed) is October 17 (Monday) from 10 am to 4 pm. The date of counting and declaration of results (if needed) is October 19.