December 6, 2022

Ernakulam (Kerala), Sep 22 : Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said anyone is free to fight for the position of Congress president, adding that a contest is a ‘good thing’.

The Congress leader, who is currently in Kerala leading the Bharat Jodo Yatra, was asked a volley of questions on the upcoming party presidential polls at a press conference here.

The 52-year-old Wayanad MP, who has so far not agreed to make a return to the top party post, said he was focused on the pan-India foot march, which aims to bridge the communal divide and raise issues like unemployment and price rise, besides reviving the party’s future.

“Whether I am a candidate or not is a design to distract from what I am doing,” the Congress leader quipped in response to a question on the Congress president polls.

With Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor appearing to be headed towards a contest in the organisational election, the Congress leader reiterated the stand taken by party president Sonia Gandhi and vocalised by office bearers of the party – that anyone can fight the election.

If it goes to a contest finally, it will be the first in 22 years.

“Any Congress leader who wants to fight the Congress election has the right to fight the election. I think it’s not a bad thing, it is a good thing,” Rahul Gandhi said.

He added that Congress is the only party to hold elections for choosing its chief. Rahul Gandhi said he is “proud” of this.

“I would like to point out that it is interesting to me, everybody asked about when Congress elections will take place… but you do not ask this question about BJP, RSS, Left, Samajwadi, BSP…” he said.

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“I am saying this with a significant degree of pride because we are the only political party in the country that does this,” he said slamming the relentless attack mounted on his party especially by the BJP for being “parivarwadi”.

Asked what would be his advice to those who want to contest the party election, he said, “You are taking on a position… a historic position, and it’s a position that defines and has defined a particular view of India.

“The Congress President is not just an organisational post, it is an ideological post.

“It is a belief system. Whoever becomes Congress president should remember he represents a belief system and a vision of India,” he said.

The notification for the election of the Congress President was issued on Thursday.

Nominations will be filed between September 24-30, and scrutiny of nominations will be held on October 1.

The nominations can be withdrawn till 3 pm on October 8, and the first list of candidates will be published at 5 pm on the same day.

If there are more than one candidates, the election will be held on October 17 and counting will be held on October 19 and results will be declared.