In the upcoming internal poll in the Congress Party, Vice-President Rahul Gandhi is likely to be elected as the party president unopposed.
As Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) delegates across the country embark on the process to elect Rahul Gandhi as the new party president, the Gandhi family scion is likely to face no contest on his way to the top job. Even as the clamour for Rahul taking over the party's reins gathered strength over the past few years, the Congress vice-president had insisted on fair elections, but with no challenger in sight, his elevation is a foregone conclusion.
As state units of the party pass resolutions proposing Rahul as the national president, the actual elections will be announced by the Election Commission next week. Following this, nominations for the top job will be open, though it is highly unlikely that any party leader will stand up for a contest. In the absence of a contender Rahul is set to be elected unopposed.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi, the longest serving party president and currently in her fourth term, was due to complete her tenure in 2015, which was extended by two years. Earlier the internal party polls were held every three years, but following a change in the party constitution it now mandates organisational polls every five years. The last time the party saw a real contest for the top job was in 1997, when ad hoc president Sitaram Kesri was faced with three other contenders - Rajesh Pilot, Sharad Pawar and AR Antulay.
Kesri, who had been at the helm of affairs, had made changes in the party's organisation by then to favour his comeback, replacing five PCC chiefs by close aides, removing three AICC general secretaries and bringing in four trusted men into the Congress Working Committee. A year later, Sonia replaced him and in the internal polls in 2000, recorded a walkover against senior leader from Uttar Pradesh, Jitendra Prasad. Since then Sonia has never faced a contest for the post.
This week UP Congress Committee, Mumbai and Rajasthan state units proposed Rahul's elevation. The state units also authorised the sitting party president and vice president to 'elect' the state chief.
A senior party functionary explained, "The same resolution proposing Rahul as the party president is being passed by one state unit after another. But this has no standing because the Election Commission will announce elections to the post by October 15, following which nominations will be open. While it is unlikely that there will be another contender for the post, to be elected unopposed is also an election in its true sense."