Top Congress leaders on Sunday reached the capital for filing of nomination papers by Rahul Gandhi for the post of party president on Monday. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram signed the nomination papers on Sunday. Sources said almost all the state party units are expected file two sets of nomination papers each on Rahul’s behalf.
Singh, Chidambaram, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Anand Sharma were among the signatories in one set of nomination papers. Senior party leader in Parliament Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge, members of the Congress Working Committee and AICC general secretaries are in the process of signing three or four sets of papers, sources said.
In Lucknow, two sets of nomination papers were handed over to Pradesh returning officer Kishore Upadhyay, a former president of the Uttarakhand Congress. Among the signatories are party veterans like Ram Krishna Dwivedi. Similarly, two sets of papers were filed in Dehardun in which state Congress chief Pritam Singh, Congress Legislature Party leader Indira Hridayesh and Upadhyay were signatories. The papers will be submitted on Monday after Rahul signs them.
All state Congress presidents and CMs from the party are expected to be in Delhi. Sources said 56 sets of nominations were filed when Sonia Gandhi was elected Congress president in 2010. Sources expect some 70-odd sets to be filed this time.
As Rahul gears up to take over, several veteran Congress leaders said he should follow his mother’s path of decision-making and running the organisation with consensus.
Former Union ministers Ashwani Kumar and Kishore Chandra Deo were frank.
“The qualitative distinction of Rahul Gandhi’s leadership of the party will rest on his ability to make difficult choices between what is right and what is considered politically expedient. While forging political alliances, he will need to ensure that these represent credible political adjustments in a time of coalition politics based upon a realistic appreciation of the party’s strength,” Kumar told The Indian Express.
His comments are interesting against the backdrop of the party’s decision to forge an alliance with Samajwadi Party, which has often been accused of indulging in castiest politics, in the UP Assembly polls had come in for criticism.
The other criticism has been that the Congress should stop living the past and get off from the high horse when it comes to seat sharing negotiations. Kumar said Rahul should “appreciate conscientious dissent” as his willingness to do so “in these testing times will strengthen the party and help in establishing an emotional bond with the party cadres.”
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Deo said Rahul should hand over reins of party in states to “credible” leaders. “Get the right people where you need to get them. There will be a tremendous response. You will see a difference in six months. All that we need is committed and politically credible people. Not big names. Not old wine in new bottle,” he said.
Former Union minister K V Thomas said Rahul should continue to seek Sonia’s guidance and advice of all sections of the party.
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