The coming week Congress leaders will be filing nomination papers for the presidential poll. It now seems that apart from Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewari will throw his hat into the ring and some others may also join the fray.
While the Gandhis are likely to be neutral in the elections, party interim president Sonia Gandhi has asserted that the polls will be fair and she will not endorse any candidate.
Sources said that the issue of Rajasthan in the event of Gehlot joining national politics was also discussed, but there is no official word on it yet.
This will be the first election since 1998 that a non-Gandhi will be elected as party president. After Sonia Gandhi got elected for the first time defeating Jitendra Prasada, since then she was elected unopposed and in 2017, Rahul Gandhi was elected unopposed.
Gehlot said that Rahul Gandhi has refused to contest the party president's election and wants a non-Gandhi to be the party president. Gehlot said, "I will be filing nomination soon and it's the need of the hour that the opposition should be strong."
Gehlot will have to relinquish the post of Chief Minister if he gets elected as Rahul Gandhi has hinted that the Congress will adhere to the 'one man one post' formula as per the Udaipur declaration.
When asked he said "I think we have made a commitment in Udaipur and I hope that it will be maintained."
The Congress had reiterated that anyone can contest the party president's poll as it was a democratic and transparent process and no nod was required from the leadership.
Jairam Ramesh, party general secretary said, "It's important to reiterate that any member is welcome to contest for Congress president. This is a democratic and transparent process. Nobody needs anybody's nod to contest, especially that of the party leadership."
Jairam has also asked the spokespersons not to comment on any candidate as their duty is to highlight that the Congress is the only party which is conducting an election.
The direction comes a day after party spokesperson Gourav Vallabh openly supported the candidature of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
"We all have our individual preferences but our job is to highlight ONLY the following," he said in a message to AICC spokespersons, media panellists, office-bearers of the communications department.
He said that the Congress is the only political party to have a democratic and transparent system in place for election to the post of its president and this should be highlighted.
The Congress is the only political party in India to have an independent Election Authority to conduct organisational elections. A person wanting to contest needs no nod from anybody to do so except from 10 PCC delegates for filing the nomination form, he added.
The Congress' central election authority had issued a notification for the AICC president polls on September 22.
According to the notification, while the nomination forms will be available from Thursday, the filing of nominations will take place between September 24 and 30.
Scrutiny of the nominations will take place on October 1, and the same day, a valid candidate list will be published. The last date of withdrawal is October 8 following which, a final list will be brought out. While the poll will be held on October 17, counting will take place on October 19.