As the Gandhis are considering stepping aside from the helm of the Congress party, the race for the leadership is seemingly getting widened with the possibilities of more tracks as the nation is watching the chaotic scenes within the party in the wake of the election to the top post and the exit of senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad from the party.
The election for the party's president will be held on October 17, the high command has announced on Sunday and the votes will be counted and the results will be declared on October 19. The Congress party rose to the possibility that it may welcome a new leader, not from the first family, as the party's president for the first time in over two decades. While Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has been touted to be the frontrunner for the top post, the latest entrant to the race is Congress MP from Kerala, Shashi Tharoor.
Citing his recent article in which he called for a free and fair election for the party's top post, the reports said that Tharoor may run for the Congress president. As the development has become the talk of the nation, Tharoor has neither confirmed nor denied the report that suggested he would run for the party's president. While addressing the reporters on Tuesday, Tharoor said, "I have no comment to make. I accept what I have written in my article, which is that an election would be a good thing for the Congress party."
It has been reported that Tharoor has been exploring the possibility of running for Congress president. However, he hasn't taken any final call. PTI has quoted the sources saying, "He has not made up his mind, but could take a call on it soon." In his article that he has written in Mathrubhumi, Tharoor said the leadership vacuum at the top had a damaging effect on the party.
He claimed that the election of the new president will be the start of the revitalisation of the party. Tharoor has cited that the Congress polls would increase national interest in the party and galvanise more voters towards the Congress party once again. He wrote, "For this, I hope that several candidates come forward to present themselves for consideration. Putting forward their visions for the party and the nation will surely stir public interest."
While the whole party is in need of renewal, Tharoor noted that the most urgent leadership position that needs to be filled is naturally that of the Congress president. He further said, "Given the current state of the party, the perception of crisis and the national picture, whoever assumes the mantle of president will undoubtedly need to achieve the twin goals of energising the Congress party workers and inspiring the voters. "
"He or she should have a plan to fix what ails the party, as well as a vision for India. After all, a political party is an instrument to serve the country, not an end in itself", he added. He penned, "Either way, a free and fair election process would be a healthy way to go about settling the issue. It would legitimise the mandate being offered to the incoming president." It must be noted that Tharoor is a member of the G23 or group of 23 dissenters of the party's leadership.
Earlier in May, veteran leader Kapil Sibal had quit Congress and last Friday, another G23 leader Ghulam Nabi Azad quit the Congress. Reacting to these exits, Tharoor said, "The exit of valued colleagues does not help. I personally regret these departures, because I would have wanted these friends to stay at the party and continue to fight to reform it."
He further penned, "As a signatory of the so-called G23 letter, I should say that it reflected concerns building up over many months among party members and well-wishers who wanted a re-energised Congress. These concerns were about the party's functioning, not its ideology or values. Our only intention was to strengthen and revive the party, not to divide or weaken it."
On Sunday, the party announced that the notification for the election will be issued on September 22, while the filing of nominations would begin on September 24 and continue till September 30. Later, the date of scrutiny of nominations would be October 1 and the last date of withdrawal of nominations would be October 8. The election will be held on October 17 if there is more than one candidate. The votes would be counted and the results would be declared on October 19.