Kamal Nath, Manish Tewari May Contest

Shashi Tharoor was the first to declare his intention to fight for the post to Sonia Gandhi,

New Delhi:

The Congress today launched the process of electing a new chief with two names certain to be in the contest – Ashok Gehlot and Shashi Tharoor.

Kamal Nath, former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, has reportedly joined the list. He is “being considered and may contest”, sources said.

More Congress leaders have emerged as possible aspirants for president in the first election in over 20 years without any Gandhi as the default choice.

They include former Union Ministers Manish Tewari, Prithviraj Chavan, Mukul Wasnik, Mallikarjun Kharge and ex Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

But sources say Mr Chavan and Mr Wasnik have denied any plans to contest.

That so many aspirants belong to the “G-23” — the group of 23 leaders who had demanded sweeping organizational changes in the Congress and “collective”, clear and visible leadership – indicates that there is no consensus among them on fellow “dissenter” Shashi Tharoor.

Mr Tharoor was the first to declare his intention to fight for the post to Sonia Gandhi, who took over as interim chief when her son Rahul Gandhi quit in 2019 over serial election defeats.

Yesterday, Digvijaya Singh, in an interview to NDTV, suggested that he could run for Congress president.

When he was asked whether he would prefer Ashok Gehlot or Shashi Tharoor in the leadership role, Digvijaya Singh said: “Let’s see. I am not ruling myself out also, why do you want to keep me out?”

He added: “Everyone has the right to contest…You will know the answer on the evening of 30th.” Those interested in running for Congress chief can apply till September 30.

The elections, if needed, will be held on October 17 and the results will be announced two days later.

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