Ending speculation, the Congress on Sunday announced that elections for its president will be held on October 17 with the winner being declared two days later (October 19), asserting that it is the only party in the country which undertakes such a democratic exercise.
The party, which last held the election for the post in November 2000, has often faced criticism from the BJP over dynastic politics due to the control of the Gandhi family over its affairs.
Sonia Gandhi is the longest service party president and has been at the helm since 1998 barring a two-year period between 2017-19 when Rahul Gandhi took over. The schedule of the election was approved unanimously at an online meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC).
The online meeting was presided over by Sonia Gandhi, who is abroad for medical checkups. She was seen flanked by former party chief Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who are accompanying her abroad.
The notification for the election will be issued on September 22, while the filing of nomination would begin on September 24 and continue till September 30, the party’s central election authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry told reporters after a nearly 30-minute meeting of the CWC.
The date of scrutiny of the nomination papers would be October 1, while the last date of withdrawal of nominations would be October 8. The election, if there is more than one candidate, will take place on October 17, while counting of votes, if necessary and the declaration of results would be on October 19, Mistry said.
‘Mughal-style’ coronation, says BJP
The BJP on Sunday termed the Congress’s claim of being the only party where internal polls occur a “joke” and mockingly asked if it is celebrating April Fool’s Day in October when the election is scheduled.
“It’s a joke,” BJP IT department head Amit Malviya said. BJP national spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla sarcastically asked, “Is April Fool’s Day being celebrated in October this year.”
“This is nothing more than a selection or a Mughal sultanate-style coronation that’s made to look like an election,” Poonawalla alleged.
He alleged the entire polling process in the Congress is “rigged” as preferred delegates are placed by the Gandhi family to effect a result desired by it.
Poonawalla likened the Congress election to a poll in the North Korean dictatorship and claimed that many Congress leaders have already weighed in on the issue by quitting the party. It is a family enterprise now, he alleged.