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Rahul Gandhi Resigns: How Will Congress Elect Its Next President?

According to the Congress constitution, senior-most gen secy will officiate until CWC appoints provisional president

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Rahul Gandhi Resigns: How Will Congress Elect Its Next President?
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Despite many attempts by party functionaries to get him to reconsider, Rahul Gandhi has announced that he is quitting as the president of the Congress party. In a letter posted on his Twitter handle on 3 July afternoon, Gandhi has empowered the Congress Working Committee to create a team to begin the search for the next president.

In the letter, Gandhi wrote, “I suggested to my colleagues in the Congress Working Committee that the way forward would be to entrust a group of people with the task of beginning the search for a new president. I have empowered them to do so and committed by full support to this process and a smooth transition”.

What Next?

Article 18 of the Congress party’s constitution deals with the election of the party president.

According to Article 18(h), “the senior most general secretary will discharge the routine functions of the party president until the CWC appoints a provisional President pending the election of a regular President by the AICC”.

Currently, the senior-most general secretary is Motilal Vora, who is likely to take over this role.

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According to the procedure, the provisional president appointed by the CWC will be in charge until elections are held. It remains to be seen how long the president appointed by the CWC or the selected by a CWC-appointed team, will function and when the elections will be held.

The elections will be conducted by the party’s Central Election Authority, whose chairperson will be the returning officer for the election. It’s current chairperson is Kerala leader Mulapally Ramachandran. Every Pradesh Congress Committee member is a delegate of the Congress and has a right to vote in the party’s presidential election.

The procedure for holding elections laid by the Congress constitution is as follows:

  • Any 10 delegates may jointly propose the name of any delegate for election as the president of the Congress.
  • After eliminating the names of those who have withdrawn, the returning officer shall immediately publish the names of the remaining candidates and circulate them to the Pradesh Congress Committee. If, after elimination, there remains only one candidate, they shall be declared duly elected as president of the next Congress Session.
  • If there’s more than one candidate, the election will be held on a date fixed by the Working Committee, which shall not ordinarily be less than seven days after the final publication of the names of contesting candidates.
  • The election follows a preferential voting system – that is, the delegates give their choices for party president in order of preference.
  • Voting takes place at the PCC level and the ballot boxes will be forwarded to the returning officer.
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  • If no candidate gets over 50 percent first preference votes, the candidate with least votes gets eliminated. The second preference votes for the voters who picked the eliminated candidate as their first choice, are counted. This process is repeated until a candidate has more than 50 percent votes.

Probables

So as of now, Vora will officiate as the president until the CWC convenes and appoints a provisional president. This will be a crucial step. The provisional president could be either an extremely short term measure and the election can be held soon after.

On the other hand, it is also possible that the provisional president continues until after the crucial assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana that are due in a few months time.

In all probability, the provisional president will be someone acceptable to most sections of the party. The front-runner would be former union home minister and Maharashtra chief Sushil Kumar Shinde, whose amiable nature and seniority might help him keep various sections together. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is another possibility, but it is unlikely that the party will take him out of Rajasthan unless it is a long term appointment as president. Two other options being talked about are general secretaries Mukul Wasnik and KC Venugopal.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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