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NEW DELHI: Contrary to earlier claims from Congress leaders, party vicepresident Rahul Gandhi’s elevation to replace mother Sonia Gandhi as party chief seems to have been put off.
With no indication when a meeting of the Congress Working Committee will take place, Congress leaders said election of the party chief may now happen after the Gujarat elections.
The likely delay flies in the face of repeated hints from Congress leaders over the last couple of months that Rahul was set to take over the reins just after Diwali and ahead of the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly polls.
These claims were politically significant as they meant that the Gandhi scion would campaign in Gujarat as Congress chief. Amid constant delay, the last window for elevation was said to be the time between the polling in Himachal Pradesh on November 9 and November 19, which is the birth anniversary of party icon Indira Gandhi.
However, Sonia is said to be in Goa on a brief “trip” while Rahul last week embarked on another three-day campaign in Gujarat which will end on Tuesday.
Many argue that convening a CWC meeting now to approve the election schedule and the time taken by the election process would push Rahul’s elevation to right in the middle of the Gujarat campaign.
A senior leader said the elevation amid a tight campaign schedule in Gujarat would create an “unnecessary distraction” for party workers, a reason why it may now happen later.
However, some leaders still feel the elevation may happen between now and Gujarat polling. They argue the timeline is too tight for the party having committed to the Election Commission that organisational polls would be held by year-end.
With results of Himachal and Gujarat on December 18, it will be left with the option of holding internal polls for the top post within the remaining 12 days of December. It would be particularly tricky if the party turns in a bad performance in the polls.