Ashok Gehlot is urged by Sonia Gandhi to "lead" the Congress.
Sonia Gandhi met with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday and is believed to have urged him to take charge as the Congress prepares to unveil its final election timetable by September 21.
Given that Mr. Gandhi has made it clear to his colleagues that he is not prepared to assume control of the party again and that there are worries about Ms. Gandhi's health and advanced age, the party may soon have someone other than Mr. or Mrs. Gandhi in charge.
Rahul Gandhi, the previous party leader, is still the "unanimous" pick, according to Mr. Gehlot, who is known to be uneasy about the concept.
"I have emphasised time and time again that Rahul Gandhi ji's leadership is necessary for the Congress to recover. Without him, people will be let down, and if guests stay home, the party won't be as strong. After seeing Ms. Gandhi, Mr. Gehlot told reporters at the Delhi airport that Rahul Gandhi must ultimately assume leadership by respecting the feelings voiced by everyone. He was travelling to Ahmedabad.
He continued, "We will keep up the pressure and persuade him to take over as the party chief.
Digvijaya Singh, a prominent figure and member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), acknowledged that "none can be pushed" if Mr. Gandhi is "adamant" about not leading the party.
A few hours after the meeting, the Congress revealed that Ms. Gandhi would be travelling overseas with her kids, Rahul and Priyanka, for a medical checkup and to visit her ailing mother.
The visit's timing is crucial because it occurs right before the announcement of the presidential election calendar.
Even though Mr. Gandhi is scheduled to start a nearly five-month-long Bharat Jodo Yatra on September 7, amid this leadership instability, Congress national secretary for communication Jairam Ramesh stressed that the party would endeavour to adhere to the timeline previously announced by the CWC.
Mr. Gandhi would speak at the Mehangai Par Halla Bol event in Delhi on September 4th, according to Mr. Ramesh as well.
"I expect the schedule or the dates for filing nominations, examination, and withdrawal of nominations will be released in the next few days. The CWC had generally stated that this procedure would begin on August 20 and conclude by September 21. When asked about the presidential election, Mr. Ramesh stated that the precise dates should be revealed soon.
G-23 vs. the Gandhis
Since Mr. Gandhi resigned from the position in May 2019 and accepted moral accountability for the party's disastrous performance in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has been plagued by the leadership issue.
The Gandhis experienced a "unprecedented revolt" a year later, in August 2020, when senior leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Manish Tewari, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, and Shashi Tharoor wrote to Ms. Gandhi to demand internal reforms after a string of defeats in Assembly elections, despite the fact that the party had "unanimously" chosen his mother to lead the party.
These ginger people, collectively known as G-23, wanted a "full time, visible party president" in their letter to Ms. Gandhi.
All three of the Gandhi family members offered to resign after a disastrous showing in the Assembly elections in the States of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa, and Manipur, but the CWC rejected their request.
The party will now need to either identify a consensus candidate or be ready for a contest because the Gandhis are no longer eager to serve as the party's leaders. In case of a contest, the emergence of G-23 will certainly add a new dimension to the leadership tussle.