Only Gandhis can lead Cong: Adhir; can’t force Rahul, says Digvijaya

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The Congress on Tuesday signalled that the schedule for the election of the party president will be announced in a few days even as senior leaders remained apprehensive about the prospect of Rahul Gandhi not contesting the election.

A day after he argued that the Congress was “unanimously” in favour of Rahul taking over the reins of the party, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot met party president Sonia Gandhi. Gehlot, however, remained tightlipped about the details of the meeting.

“If Rahul Gandhi does not become the party president, it will be a disappointment for the Congressmen in the country. Many people will sit at home and we will suffer. He (Rahul Gandhi) should accept this post by himself, understanding the sentiments of the common Congress people in the country,” Gehlot had said on Monday.

The opinion in the party, however, remained. While Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said no one outside the Gandhi family can lead the party now, senior leader Digvijaya Singh said Rahul cannot be forced to take over as Congress president.

Chowdhury was forthright as he said his view was that either Rahul should take over as president or Sonia Gandhi should continue. “Either Rahul-ji or Sonia-ji. We don’t have any other alternative. Whatever people may say…that is the reality,” Chowdhury told The Indian Express.

When asked about Rahul’s reluctance to take over, Singh told NDTV: “How can you force anyone.”

The G 23 leaders of the party, meanwhile, signalled that Sonia’s continuance or Rahul’s taking over don’t make much difference if the system remains the same. “What the Congress desperately needs is a new, fresh message and changes in the system…the way the party functions. It really does not matter who is at the helm,” a G 23 leader said.

The party, meanwhile, signalled that the date-wise schedule for the election will be announced in a few days.

“In a few days…I hope the schedule for filing of nomination, scrutiny, withdrawal, etc. and the date for the election will be announced. Broadly, we know that the process would begin on August 20 and end on September 21. But the exact dates for the election will be announced in a few days. Let us see what happens,” Congress general secretary in-charge of communication Jairam Ramesh said.