Rahul likely to be Cong prez next month

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES NATION - NEWS NET­WORK

TIMES New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi is likely to cam­paign in the forth­com­ing Gu­jarat and Hi­machal Pradesh polls as Congress pres­i­dent with the party’s or­gan­i­sa­tional elec­tions likely to wrap up soon, paving the way for the leader’s for­mal el­e­va­tion as party chief next month.

The com­ple­tion of the or­gan­i­sa­tional election process will set the stage for a ses­sion of the All In­dia Congress Com­mit­tee in Oc­to­ber where Rahul is ex­pected to be elected party pres­i­dent. He is un­der­stood to be keen on an elec­toral process rather than a work­ing com­mit­tee de­ci­sion that is rat­i­fied by the AICC.

“As things stand, the party’s or­gan­i­sa­tional elec­tions, ex­cept in states that are poll­bound, will be over soon. Rahul has favoured the elec­toral process in the or­gan­i­sa­tional re­forms he has backed so far. It is ex­pected that he will be elected party pres­i­dent,” se­nior Congress leader Veer­appa Moily told TOI.

In an in­ter­ac­tion dur­ing his on­go­ing visit to the US, Rahul said he is ready to be named Congress’s PM nom­i­nee but re­ferred to the on­go­ing or­gan­i­sa­tional elec­tions. The de­ci­sion will be made by del­e­gates, he said.

The de­vel­op­ment will see a change in his sta­tus as he takes over from mother So­nia Gandhi ahead of the next round as­sem­bly elec­tions likely to he held in Novem­ber. The Gu­jarat poll, where BJP has been in of­fice since 1998, is cru­cial for BJP as it will test the party’s re­silience af­ter Naren­dra Modi be­came PM.

While Gu­jarat polls will also show if Congress has made gains, it will be de­fend- ing its hold on of­fice in Hi­machal Pradesh where CM Virb­hadra Singh has been hit with con­tro­ver­sies over a dis­pro­por­tion­ate as­sets case.

Rahul’s for­mal election as party pres­i­dent is likely to be fol­lowed by an in­for­mal di­vi­sion of work with So­nia ex­pected to be in­volved in the in­ter­ac­tion with al­lies and likely part­ners ahead of the 2019 poll. But it will bring a new set of younger lead­ers, close to Rahul, more to the fore even as some of the old guard re­tain im­por­tant re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Rahul tak­ing charge as party pres­i­dent has been long awaited with the leader of­ten seen to have de­ferred a de­ci­sion be­fore be­com­ing vice pres­i­dent at a Congress con­clave in 2013. There­after too he has sidestepped the is­sue un­til re­cently when said he is ready to be for­mally named the party’s PM nom­i­nee.

With the next gen­eral elec­tions around 20 months away, the state­ment dur­ing an in­ter­ac­tion with a univer­sity au­di­ence in the US where he is cur­rently on a visit, is seen as linked to his im­pend­ing el­e­va­tion. “I am ab­so­lutely ready to do that,” he said when asked if he was ready to be named PM nom­i­nee, adding that there was a party process and or­gan­i­sa­tional elec­tions were cur­rently un­der way.

PTI

READY TO TAKE CHARGE

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