New Delhi: By end of today, Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as the Congress’ next President in place of his mother Sonia Gandhi is expected to be official. Today is the last day for filing nominations and the last chance for anyone in the party to challenge Gandhi to an election for the post. That is not expected to happen.
Rahul Gandhi, who has been the Congress’ Vice-President for almost five years, filed the nomination papers at the party’s 24 Akbar Road headquarters in New Delhi at 10.30 am, with the who’s who of the party present. Also, the party’s six Chief Ministers, among them Punjab’s Amarinder Singh, earlier seen as having been opposed to Rahul Gandhi taking his mother’s place to lead the party.
Mullappally Ramachandran, the Chairman of the Congress’ Central Election Authority, said no one in the party has so far sought to contest against Rahul Gandhi since the process of nominations opened on Friday. If he remains the only candidate at the end of Monday, he will be announced Congress Chief.
Sonia Gandhi has been the party’s longest serving President, having led the party for 19 years since 1998.
The handover, for years expected to be a smooth transition in a party were the Nehru-Gandhi family has rarely been challenged for leadership, became controversial after a Congress leader from Maharashtra said the internal election to elect the party Chief was “rigged.”
Shehzad Poonawalla indicated he would have liked to contest the election, alleging that it is a sham since Rahul Gandhi enjoys an “unfair advantage.”
He also wrote to Rahul Gandhi demanding that he resign as Party Vice-President, enter a televised debate and “be judged on merit” rather than on his surname. Poonawalla, 30, alleged yesterday that he has an audio recording on a phone call where senior Congress leader Manish Tiwari advised him to roll-back his rebellion for the sake of his political career.