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Poll buzz gets stronger in Cong; Gehlot meets Sonia Gandhi

I will not back out from any responsibility and will serve the party wherever and in whichever capacity I am required in this hour of crisis, Gehlot said.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

Amid growing buzz about his nomination for the presidential post of the Congress, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Wednesday met party interim president Sonia Gandhi. He is tipped to be the presidential candidate for the Congress.

Earlier in the day, Gehlot, who reached the national capital this morning, told media persons that he would not back out if the grand old party wants him to contest the Congress presidential poll.

“I will not back out from any responsibility and will serve the party wherever and in whichever capacity I am required in this hour of crisis,” Gehlot said. However, he said that the party wants Rahul Gandhi to take over as the AICC president.

Gehlot said that he will discharge all the responsibilities given and hinted that he can manage the posts of both – the party chief and the Chief Ministership of Rajasthan – simultaneously.

The Chief Minister said that he is not aspiring for any post but wants to work towards ousting the ‘fascist’ (BJP) government.

Meanwhile, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who has signalled his desire to contest the election to elect a new party chief, met the party’s Central Election Authority (CEA) chairman Madhusudan Mistry on Wednesday.

Mistry later said that they answered all queries of the party MP regarding the election of the Congress president. “We answered all his queries regarding the Congress presidential election. We explained to him about the electoral rules, number of agents and their roles, and discussed how to fill out the form for election,” said Mistry.

The election of the Congress president is slated for October 17 and the counting of votes will take place on October 19. Mistry said that those who want to contest for the post of president will need the signatures of 10 delegates.

Asked if Ashok Gehlot can file his nomination while continuing as the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Mistry said that the party constitution states that anyone can fight the presidential election on the condition that he or she is a Congress delegate.

Mistry also said that a separate polling booth will not be made for party leaders on Bharat Jodo Yatra including Rahul Gandhi. The CEA can arrange for postal ballots for Rahul Gandhi and other delegates who are on the Yatra, he said.

“A separate polling booth will not be made for Bharat Jodo Yatris like Rahul Gandhi as they are in the ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra. But if he informs us before time, we can take his vote through postal ballot for the Congress presidential election,” said Mistry.

Shashi Tharoor had met the party’s interim chief Sonia Gandhi on Monday and is learnt to have conveyed his intention to contest the party’s presidential elections to ‘make internal democracy’ in the party stronger. Tharoor is a member of G23, which had written to Sonia Gandhi seeking sweeping reforms in the party.