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Tue. Oct 4th, 2022
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New Delhi: Amid lingering “will Rahul, won’t Rahul” uncertainty, there were indications his final refusal to enter fray may lead more partypersons to throw their hat in the ring.
On a day when Sonia Gandhi held discussion with Ashok Gehlot, party circles were abuzz with speculation of vocal dissident Manish Tewari and a veteran joining Shashi Tharoor and Gehlot in the fray. The news that Mallikarjun Kharge was going to Kerala for Bharat Jodo Yatra reinforced speculation. While Digvijaya Singh’s remark “why I am being ruled out as a contestant”, led to sensation, sources sought to tamp down the excitement by suggesting it was just an off-the-cuff quip to parry a query about whom he preferred between Gehlot and Tharoor.
After Sonia’s meeting with Gehlot, AICC sources said she has conveyed that she will “stay neutral” in the open poll. The claim was similar to what she is learnt to have told aspirant Tharoor earlier.
AICC will notify the poll process on Thursday. The top party job is likely to witness a contest for the first time in 22 years. The schedule for filing nominations is September 24-30.
Gehlot said he was still hopeful Rahul will take over the leadership. He is visiting Kochi on Friday to join Bharat Jodo Yatra, where “I will make one last ditch attempt to persuade Rahul”. He said if he failed, he will file the papers if directed by party.
Seen as a formality in the past, the election for Congress presidency appears to be shaping up as a real contest. Besides Gehlot, Tharoor on Wednesday visited AICC poll authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry and reviewed the electoral rolls, while also inquiring about formalities. Given the drama around polls, all eyes are on Rahul and Gehlot.
Gehlot’s response to reporters about what would happen to the CM’s post if he becomes AICC chief led to much drama. He backed himself for holding both the posts. “Wherever I am, whether on one post, or two or none, I’ll have no problems. Left to me, I will hold no post. I would just hit the ground with Rahul and mobilise people against fascist policies of BJP,” he said.

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