The much-awaited elevation of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to the post of party president may finally be coming, with the party’s organisational polls entering its final phase. Directions to this effect have already been sent to all block and district-level organisations of the party, paving the way for Rahul’s appointment as the party chief ahead of Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
According to top party sources, district and block-level organisations have been asked to conclude the process of internal elections soon. They said the electoral committee of the party will announce the schedule for the election to the post of party president by October 15. Elections to the post will be held only if there is a nomination filed by a member for the post of Congress president.
Since the likelihood of that happening appears bleak, Rahul’s elevation to the post of Congress president could be announced when the nomination process closes, which should be by the end of October, the sources indicated.
The development comes just days after Rahul, during an interaction on his recent US visit, indicated his willingness to be named at Congress’ prime ministerial candidate. The conclusion of the organisational poll process will pave the way for a session of the All India Congress Committee where Rahul’s formal elevation could be ratified. During his interaction at Berkeley, US, Rahul too had pointed out to the ongoing organizational polls.
"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 underway.
“It was certain that Rahul Gandhi will succeed Sonia as Congress president. But it wasn’t clear when that would happen. It has now been decided that Rahul’s elevation will not be delayed any further. Congress will get its new president next month,“ Congress leader RPN Singh told India TV.
Rahul taking over the reins of the party comes ahead of the Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh – both states where Congress would like to make an impact. While Gujarat has been a stronghold of the BJP since 1998, the Congress will be hoping to make some dent to the party’s prospects in the elections. The state will be a crucial test for the BJP which suffered a loss in the Rajya Sabha polls where it had put in enormous resources to ensure the loss of Congress stalwart Ahmed Patel.
Significantly, the state government has been ridden with controversies over the Patidar agitation, the dengue deaths and the recent floods that wreaked havoc in the state. Any damage that the Congress manages to inflict upon the BJP in the state will be seen as a loss of face for Prime Minister Narendra Modi going into the 2019 general elections.
In Himachal Pradesh, on the other hand, the Congress will be fighting to save its own government led by Virbhadra Singh who has been embroiled in a string of controversies over a case of disproportionate assets.
Rahul’s elevation now will also give him sufficient time ahead of the 2019 General Elections where the Congress will be desperately seeking to improve its tally from the 44 seats that the Modi wave reduced the grand old party to. That, observers believe, will be his litmus test.