Debating India

INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS

Sonia set to be re-elected party chief

Wednesday 25 May 2005

Special Correspondent

89 nominations in her favour

It was my proud privilege to propose Ms. Gandhi’s name for the post of Congress president... the nation has already decided on her leadership: Manmohan

JPEG - 17 kb
V. Sudershan
NO DOUBTS ABOUT THIS: Sonia Gandhi signs her nomination form for the June 9 election of the Congress president. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the proposer, and AICC general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi savour the scene at the party headquarters in New Delhi on Wednesday.

NEW DELHI: Sonia Gandhi is all set to be re-elected Congress president unopposed. All 89 nominations filed on Wednesday for the post were in favour of the incumbent. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the first to propose her name. But for the sudden death of Cabinet Minister Sunil Dutt, the number of nominations would have crossed the 100-mark as expected by party managers.

Soon after his death was confirmed, it was decided that Ms. Gandhi would not give her consent for any more nominations. As no nomination will be complete without the consent of the candidate, this decision virtually capped the exercise.

Officially, however, the central election authority will accept nominations till Friday afternoon.

Though scrutiny of the papers and their publication were to be taken up within an hour of the close of nominations, the exercise has been postponed to the following day as May 27 is Jawaharlal Nehru’s death anniversary.

Elaborate preparations

Elaborate preparations were made for the filing of nominations with delegates from across the country swarming the Congress headquarters from early hours. Most Congress Chief Ministers and practically all Pradesh Congress Committee presidents were in attendance.

The exercise began with the Prime Minister leading veterans of the party to Ms. Gandhi’s residence.

After securing her consent, Dr. Singh - accompanied by practically the entire central leadership - went to the Congress headquarters.

The first set of papers was signed, besides by Dr. Singh, by five Ministers - Shivraj Patil, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Arjun Singh, G. Venkataswamy and P. R. Kyndiah - and senior leaders Ambika Soni, M.L. Fotedar, Digvijay Singh and Mohsina Kidwai.

Soon after, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee led another set of senior leaders for filing the second set of nominations.

My privilege: Manmohan

In a brief interaction with the media, the Prime Minister said: "It was my proud privilege to propose Ms. Gandhi’s name for the post of Congress president." Asked whether the party had no other leader for the post, he said the nation already decided on her leadership.

That most States did not heed the central leadership’s advice to limit the number of nominations was evident from the filing of 89 sets before she cut short the exercise.

The big States were asked to file a maximum of five nominations, the middle-sized States not more than three and the small ones one each.

Among the last nominations filed was the one proposed by Ms. Gandhi’s son, Rahul Gandhi.

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