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Decks cleared for Rahul to take over as Congress President, PM call its 'Aurangzeb Raj'

IANS  |  New Delhi 

In a generational shift at the top in the Congress, is all set to take over as party President next week after he filed his nomination papers on Monday for the post amid opposition jibes over dynasty in a contest with no one else in the fray.

The 47-year-old Gandhi, who will be the sixth Nehru-Gandhi scion to helm the party, filed papers at the headquarters here amid cheers and celebrations by party leaders and workers. His mother and incumbent party President signed the first nomination paper for election of her son.

Among the proposers was former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who called the "darling" of the party. Manmohan Singh accompanied Gandhi when he filed the nomination paper.

In all over 90 sets of nominations were said to have been filed supporting Gandhi before the deadline expired at 3 p.m. on Monday. 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 on Tuesday.

However, the filing of nomination was not without controversy stoked by remarks of senior leader Mani Shankar Aiyar who invoked the Mughal dynasty in the Presidential election that Prime Minister Narendra Modi latched on to quickly to call it "Aurangzeb Raj".

"When Shah Jahan came in the place of Jahangir did any election happen? And when Aurangzeb came in place of Shah Jahan did any election happen? It was known to everyone that the throne of the king will automatically go to the heir," Aiyar said, retorting to the "dynasty" jibes of the BJP on Rahul Gandhi's election.

"But in a democracy elections are held. I openly invite (Shehzad) Poonawala to file the nomination and contest," Aiyar said, adding has anyone heard of Poonawala earlier.

Aiyar was replying to a question about BJP's criticism following Maharashtra leader Poonawala alleging that election for President was a sham and Rahul Gandhi's elevation was rigged.

Modi was quick to pounce on Aiyar's remarks. Addressing an election rally in Gujarat, Modi said: "Aiyar, who never shies away from showing loyalty to one family, proudly said -- When Shah Jahan came in the place of Jahangir did any elections happen? And when Aurangzeb came in place of Shah Jahan did any election happen?

"It was known to everyone that the throne of the king will automatically go the son. I congratulate the on their 'Aurangzeb Raj.' For us, the wellbeing of the people matters and 125 crore Indians are our high command," he said.

The Prime Minister also said that the leaders admit that it is not a party but a "kunba" (family).

Modi at a poll rally in Gujarat on Sunday lauded Poonawala for exposing lack of internal democracy in the "Those who have no internal democracy can't work for people. I want to say to this youngster Shehzad - you have done a brave thing but this is sadly what has always happened in "

spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said Modi was "suffering from phobia".

Surjewala also said that Modi's "love for Shehzad, Shahzada (BJP chief Amit Shah's son Jai Shah) and Shourya (National Security Advisor Ajit Doval's son)" is well known to the world.

"But will Modiji tell when he will answer the questions of his own senior party leaders like Arun Shourie, Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha?" he asked.

Gandhi, who became the Vice President in January 2013, will succeed his mother Sonia, the longest serving chief who has helmed the party since 1998. He is the sixth in the Gandhi-Nehru family to head the party after his great great grandfather Motilal Nehru, great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, grandmother and father

Hundreds of workers and leaders from across the country supporters thronged the party office ahead of the filing of nominations.

A large crowd of party workers were seen requesting the guards for a chance to meet their leader as he made his much awaited move.

Earlier Gandhi called on former President Pranab Mukherjee, who applied tilak mark on his head as a way of blessing.

On his elevation, Manmohan Singh said: "is a darling of the and he will carry forward the great traditions of the party."

Noting that served as President for over 19 years, Manmohan Singh said: "It will be yet another chapter for the party."

Among those who signed the various sets of nomination papers for Gandhi were Motilal Vora, Ahmed Patel, Tarun Gogoi, V.Narayansami, Ashok Gehlot, Kamal Nath, Anand Sharma, Jaipal Reddy, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Salman Khursheed, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and Karan Singh.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, December 04 2017. 15:28 IST