Rahul files nomination for Cong president, PM likens elevation to Mughal succession

NEW DELHI
4 Dec 2017

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi today filed his nomination for the post of party president, heralding a generational shift in the leadership of the grand old party seeking a revival in its electoral fortunes and prompting Prime MinisterNarendra Modi to liken the imminent elevation to dynastic succession of Mughal rulers.

With no other claimants in the fray and today being the last day for filing nominations, his elevation as Congress president is almost certain, party sources said. The 47-year-old Gandhi scion is set take over the party's reins from Sonia Gandhi, who has steered the party for 19 years, including the 10 when it led the UPA government. Accompanied by a host of senior party leaders, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul filed his papers before the party's Central Election Committee. Sonia Gandhi, one of the leaders who proposed Rahul's name, was not present during the nomination filing. With speculation over whether or not Rahul Gandhi -- who was appointed vice president in January 2013 -- will step into his mother's shoes finally ending, the party's leaders hailed the day as "historic". They exuded confidence that he will carry forward the party's traditions and lead it to victory in the next general elections in 2019.

The move also comes just ahead of the elections in Gujarat, which goes to the polls on December 9 and 14. In 2014, the Congress was reduced to its lowest-ever tally of 44 seats in the Lok Sabha and has since suffered a series of electoral defeats at the state level. "Rahul ji has been the darling of the Congress...Rahul Gandhi will carry on the great traditions of the Congress party," the normally taciturn Dr Manmohan Singh told newspersons at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters after Rahul filed his papers. Dr Singh said Congress president Sonia Gandhi had served the Congress party and the country for 19 years. "This is yet another step forward in that direction," he added. While there were several nomination forms filed on behalf of Rahul, the Congress vice-president personally filed two sets.

The first nomination form was filed by him and proposed by Sonia Gandhi, Motilal Vora, Ahmed Patel, Mohsina Kidwai, Kamal Nath, Sheila Dikshit, Ashok Gehlot, Mukul Wasnik, Tarun Gogoi and V Narayanasamy. All leaders except Sonia Gandhi were present. The second nomination form was proposed by Manmohan Singh, Siddaramaiah, Oscar Fernandes, P Chidambaram, Sushilkumar Shinde, Jyotiraditya Scindia, T Subbarami Reddy, Jaipal Reddy, Mukul Sangma and Anand Sharma. Meanwhile the Prime Minister likened Rahul’s imminent elevation to dynastic succession of Mughal rulers, and castigated the Congress for abandoning "public modesty" by deciding to make a person, who is out on bail in a graft case, its president. Modi also targeted the Congress over corruption during its rule, and spoke about the clean governance under him in Gujarat and at the Centre.

"The Congress has abandoned all public modesty. The Congress has gone bankrupt, as it is going to make a person who is out on bail in corruption case its president," Modi told a rally here in Valsad district of election-bound Gujarat, apparently referring to the National Herald case. Political parties, he said, will think 17 times before making those out on bail even a district unit chief. Later today senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar kicked up a row with comments on succession under the Mughals.  Responding to Shehzad Poonawala's "dynastic politics" remark on the organisational poll which, he claimed, was "rigged", Aiyar said today the Congress leader from Maharashtra was free to contest against Gandhi, while there was no election during the Mughal rule when sons succeeded the emperors.

"When Shah Jahan came in the place of Jahangir, was there an election? When Aurangzeb came in place of Shah Jahan, was there an election? No. It was known to everyone earlier that the throne of the emperor will automatically go to the king's heir. If they fight amongst themselves, it is a different matter”, the former Union minister said.