All decks were cleared yesterday for Rahul Gandhi to succeed his mother Sonia Gandhi as president of the Congress Party after he was the only one to file a nomination for the post.
Nominations for the post of party president have now closed for the election, which had been scheduled for December 16.
Gandhi, 47, filed his papers at the party headquarters in Delhi in the presence of several senior members and a large crowd of party workers.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh was among those nominating him.
“The Congress Party has been serving the people of India for 103 years and has made sacrifices; this is a new era of service beginning,” party spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala said.
The last date for withdrawal is December 11 when he may be declared elected since there is no contest.
Scrutiny of the nomination will take place today.
“Eighty-nine nominations from various states were submitted to the returning officer. Prominent Congress leaders filed nominations (on behalf of Gandhi) including the former prime minister, Congress Working Committee members, MPs, state Congress leaders,” returning officer Mullapally Ramachandran told reporters.
Though Ramachandran did not give details, sources said all the nominations were in favour of “one candidate” – obviously Gandhi.
Originally 90 nomination forms were issued but one could not be filed as there were not enough number of proposers.
Earlier, Gandhi called on former president Pranab Mukherjee, who blessed him.
Gandhi has a tough task ahead leading the Congress into the general elections in 2019 in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to seek re-election.
The Congress which has run the federal government for most years since independence in 1947 was soundly defeated by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2014 general elections and has also lost several local elections in recent years.
“This is a promotion without performance,” BJP spokesman Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
“The Congress is on the ventilator and Rahul Gandhi cannot achieve much even if he is put on the elevator,” Naqvi said.
“We don’t want this Aurangzeb rule,” Modi, who is currently campaigning for state elections in his home state of Gujarat, said.
He was referring to the Mughal ruler whose line chose their successors.
Critics say the Congress has become a dynastic party over the decades.
Gandhi represents the fourth generation of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.
His great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, grandmother Indira Gandhi father Rajiv were all party presidents and prime ministers.
Both Indira and Rajiv Gandhi were assassinated.
Rahul’s Italian-born mother Sonia could have been prime minister when the coalition won the 2004 elections, but she decided to name Manmohan Singh to the post and stay party president.
Rahul Gandhi has been vice president of the party since 2013 and a lawmaker since 2004.
Party leaders say he has been focusing on strengthening the party’s organisational structure, but many see him as a reluctant politician.
It is not clear what role Sonia Gandhi, who has been serving as Congress chief for over 19 years, will play in the party.
She has been suffering from ill health.
Large numbers of party workers gathered at the headquarters in New Delhi to show their support for Rahul Gandhi.
“Rahul Gandhi is a darling of the Congress and he will carry forward the great traditions of the party,” Manmohan Singh said.
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