Congress sets stage for Rahul Gandhi’s elevation to party president


New Delhi: The first step toward Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s elevation to the top post is likely to come over the next week, with the party’s central election authority (CEA) expected to send a tentative schedule for the election of the new president to party chief Sonia Gandhi.

The chorus for Rahul Gandhi’s elevation has grown since he took over as party vice-president in 2013. Sonia Gandhi has been at the helm for nearly two decades, making her the longest serving president of the party.

“Almost all the states have nearly completed the process (of internal elections) and soon after that the election authority will send the tentative schedule for election of the president to Sonia Gandhi’s office,” a senior party leader aware of developments, said requesting anonymity.

According to another party leader, the schedule will be communicated to the Congress Working Committee (CWC)—the highest decision making body of the party—for its assent. The leader added that CWC meeting could be called later this month, although such a move is not strictly necessary.

The tentative schedule will also take note of Rahul Gandhi’s ongoing campaign trips to poll-bound Gujarat.

On Saturday, the party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters that Rahul Gandhi was the “unquestioned choice of all the Congress workers… for taking over as its president.”

The move is important because it is the first time that a sitting president from the Gandhi family will make way for another Gandhi. In 1985, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi took over the top post after the assassination of his mother and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The schedule for the election of the new president will consist of a nomination date, scrutiny date and a date of withdrawal, as well as polling and result date if necessary.

Every candidate running for the top post needs to get his name jointly proposed by 10 Pradesh Congress Committee delegates and the proposal should reach on or before such a date fixed by CWC, according to the party constitution.

If there is a contest, polling will take place. In the absence of a contender, which most party leaders are hoping for, the new president automatically gets announced soon after scrutiny of nomination.

Party leaders say that the entire process could get completed by November, following which a plenary session of the party could be called which would be chaired by the new president.