Shashi Tharoor to run for the post of Congress president

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The Congress is set to have a non-Gandhi president for the first time in over 20 years. Ashok Gehlot, a Gandhi family loyalist, will run for party president opposite Shashi Tharoor, who is among those in the party who want major internal reforms.

Shashi Tharoor, a former Union Minister, was the first to declare his intention to run for a post that has been with the Gandhis, either Sonia Gandhi or her son Rahul, for much of 25 years. He is a prominent member of the Congress’s G-23 or group of 23 leaders who had written to Sonia Gandhi in 2020 calling for an organizational overhaul and blaming the party’s downspiral on a leadership drift.

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Tharoor met with Sonia Gandhi, who is just back from a trip abroad for a medical check-up, this afternoon and got her go-ahead to contest the October 17 election.

Rajasthan Chief Minister, a staunch Gandhi family loyalist, had been pressing for Rahul Gandhi’s return as party chief until recently.  He is likely to win support among those batting for status quo and a return of Rahul Gandhi at the top post.

Sonia Gandhi had taken over as the interim chief of the party after Rahul Gandhi had stepped down from the post after the 2019 elections defeat.

Rahul Gandhi, who is currently leading the party’s “Bharat Jodo” yatra, has firmly refused to return as president despite unrelenting demand from a section of Congress leaders.

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Last week, Tharoor was among the leaders who sought “transparency and fairness” in the poll process in a letter to the AICC central election authority. He was also among the leaders who asked that the list of voters be made public.

The elections to the president’s post will take place against the backdrop of exits by a number of key leaders – Kapil Sibal, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Jaiveer Shergill, Sunil Jakhar, Amarinder Singh, RPN Singh, Ashwani Kumar and Hardik Patel.