Madhusudan Mistry, the man in charge of the holding the election for the top job in the Congress, said senior party leader Shashi Tharoor — who is one of the contestants — was satisfied with the preparations. Mr Tharoor, who is likely to be up against Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in the election, had met Mr Mistry today to inspect the list of voters and other particulars.
One of the 23 leaders who wrote the explosive letter to Sonia Gandhi two years ago, seeking organisational changes, Mr Tharoor has been insistent on a free and fair election.
Asked if he was satisfied on that score, Mr Mistry – the party’s central election authority chairman — indicated that his questions were more on the process. “He was satisfied. He saw the list and clarified some points,” Mr Mistry told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
The process of notification of polls begins on September 24 and will continue till September 30.
Mr Tharoor had met party chief Sonia Gandhi on Monday and expressed his intention to contest the election for the top job.
His opponent is likely to be Ashok Gehlot, who is meeting Mrs Gandhi today. Mr Gehlot is seen as reluctant to give up the post of the Rajasthan Chief Minister to keep arch-rival Sachin Pilot off. But as a Gandhi family loyalist, he is seen as front-runner in the election where many might opt for a status quo in the party’s functioning.
Another senior leader, Digvijaya Singh, however, threw a googly today, indicating that he might also join in, making it a triangular contest. He, however, refused to give a straight reply to whether he will file nomination. One can only know it on the “evening of 30th (last day of filing nomination)” he said.
This is the first time in over 20 years, the Congress is likely to have a non-Gandhi chief. Sonia Gandhi had held the reins of the party since March 1998, when she took over from Sitaram Kesri, the last non-Gandhi President.
With the Congress at one of its lowest points in 1998 after the Narasimha Rao government was voted out, Mrs Gandhi, who had decided to stay away from politics after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, had declared that she would join the party.