With Rahul Gandhi finally officially resigning as the Congress party president after a weeks-long drama wherein he claimed to want to exit and party leaders attempted to convince him otherwise by telling him that he's the only one who can take the party forward, the race for the next face of the party is on. As per sources, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot are in running to become the next Congress president, with nonagenarian Motilal Vora likely to take on the role on an interim basis before that.
Sources have said that there are factions within the party, one comprising of Gandhi loyalists and old-timers who want Shinde, Gehlot, Anand Sharma etc in control of the party and others who want younger and capable leaders such has Sachin Pilot to lead them. Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra Gandhi are supporting old timers who are loyalists to become president in order to retain control of the party within the family with the hope that they will retire in a couple of years.
Congress Chairperson Sonia Gandhi favours Sushil Kumar Shinde as the next Congress president, say sources, despite him being beaten in the Lok Sabha elections. A percentage of his electoral base also chose to Prakash Ambedkar who formed VBA only a year ago.
Sources added that Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot too is in the running to become the party chief. Gehlot was headed to the airport but was called back to Delhi even as the assembly session is going on in Rajasthan, the sources said. Gehlot was in Delhi for a few days and he had met Sonia Gandhi. As per sources, he has now been called back to the national capital. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is also believed to favour Gehlot as party chief.
While senior Congress leaders are in a huddle to finalise a date for CWC which is scheduled to take place soon to end the leadership crisis, Gehlot has still not been given any appointment with Rahul Gandhi for a one-on-one meeting.
Republic TV had earlier reported that Rahul Gandhi had hit out at senior leaders like Ashok Gehlot, Madhya Pradesh Kamal Nath and others for not putting the party first during the Lok Sabha poll preparations. He said that the leaders were busy campaigning for their sons than for the candidates of the parties. Gandhi has, as per sources, also decided to quit as his demand that Ahmed Patel, Ashok Gehlot and Kamal Nath should be shunted was rejected.
Sources also say that Sachin Pilot has been offered to become the president but he has not reverted as he wants to focus on regional politics and on his ambition to become the Rajasthan chief minister. Sources say that he also hopes that with Gehlot becoming the party president, he could be the CM of Rajasthan. While speaking to the media, Pilot himself said that he like many others in the party hoped Gandhi took back his resignation.