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Not Just Old Guards, Rahul Gandhi Wants State Cong Leaders to Have a Say Too in Selection of His Successor

PTI8 6 2019 000210B 1

Former Union ministers and Gandhi family loyalist Mallikarjun Kharge and Mukul Wasnik are the front runners to succeed Rahul Gandhi. Both Wasnik and Kharge are Dalit leaders.

New Delhi: Ahead of crucial Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, party president Rahul Gandhi is said to have intervened in the selection process of the new president. Sources said that he does not want to leave the election on old guards in Congress Parliamentary Party (CEC).

The CWC, the highest decision-making body of the party, will meet here on Saturday to nominate a new president after Gandhi resigned from the post last month in the wake of a comprehensive defeat in the Lok Sabha elections. As per sources, the CWC may elect an interim president who will call for fresh elections to pick the Congress president.

According to sources, Rahul Gandhi after a meeting on Friday evening said the CWC alone would not decide upon the name of the party president. As per the outgoing president, general-secretaries of the Pradesh Congress Committees (PCCs) as well as CWC members will pick a name, the sources added.

Former Union ministers and Gandhi family loyalist Mallikarjun Kharge and Mukul Wasnik are the front runners to succeed Rahul Gandhi.

​Both Wasnik and Kharge are Dalit leaders. Wasnik is a former Youth Congress chief and minister from Maharashtra. Kharge, a senior party leader from neighbouring Karnataka, was the Leader of the Congress in the 16th Lok Sabha. Both politicians lost the last Lok Sabha elections.

United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi met senior leaders Ahmed Patel, AK Antony and KC Venugopal on Friday ahead of the crucial CWC meeting.

Mumbai Congress chief Milind Deora in a tweet reiterated his support for Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia to succeed Rahul Gandhi.

“To my mind, two young leaders have the administrative, organisational and electoral credentials to become Congress President,” said Deora. “They have pan-India appeal and either one can reinvigorate the party.”

Despite repeated requests by many party leaders, Rahul Gandhi has refused to continue as the party president. The Gandhi family has also turned down any suggestions to elevate Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as party chief.

Since the Lok Sabha defeat, the Congress has struggled to keep its house in order, with many party leaders jumping ship for better opportunities.

The party’s alliance government in Karnataka with the Janata Dal (Secular) has since collapsed and some of its active leaders in poll-bound Maharashtra have joined rivals BJP and the Shiv Sena.

During the budget session of the Parliament, two party MPs from Assam had resigned from the Rajya Sabha.

Sanjay Sinh from Amethi, considered close to the Gandhi family, quit citing complete disorder and confusion in the party rank and file.

More embarrassing for the Congress was the resignation of Bhubaneswar Kalita, party chief whip and MP from Assam. Kalita resigned on the eve of the crucial vote on the Triple Talaq Bill in the Rajya Sabha, and then joined the BJP on Friday.

Many Congress leaders, especially the younger lot, has sought to express their reservations on stand taken by party on critical issues, including scrapping of special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Both Dipender Hooda and Scindia had tweeted in support of Article 370.

The meeting at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters comes after several top party leaders, such as Shashi Tharoor and Karan Singh, voiced concern over the lack of clarity on the leadership issue.

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