The Congress on Monday eased the path to have a new party chief in Rahul Gandhi by December 5. But in Gujarat, its alliance talks with Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti faced difficulties.
On its part, the BJP released its third list of 28 candidates for the Gujarat elections. It reached out to the Patidar community by giving 14 party tickets to candidates from the community. The party had seen rebellion in its ranks over ticket distribution.
In Delhi, the Congress Working Committee, the party’s highest decision making body, met in the morning to approve a schedule to elect the next party president. The date for filing nominations is December 1. Nominations can be filed until 3 pm on December 4. The list of candidates will be put out by the afternoon of December 5.
With Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi likely to be the only candidate, he is set to be announced the party chief by December 5, ahead of the first phase of the Gujarat polls on December 9. But in case of more nominations by December 11, the polling to elect the new Congress president will take place on December 16, and the counting of votes on December 19. The Election Commission has given the Congress until the end of this year to complete its organisational elections.
The counting of votes for the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh polls is on December 18.
In her remarks at the CWC meeting, outgoing Congress President Sonia Gandhi criticised the Narendra Modi government for its economic policies and for “sabotaging the winter session” of Parliament. Rahul Gandhi asked party leaders to aim for victory in Gujarat. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh and party general secretaries also attended the CWC meeting.
In Rajkot, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Congress, when it was leading the UPA government at the Centre, had also delayed a session in 2011 and earlier because the sittings coincided with election campaigns. Jaitley said the winter session “will be held for sure and on all subjects”.
The winter session usually starts in November and lasts till the third week of December. The government is looking at a truncated winter session.
In Ahmedabad, the BJP said it would field former minister Saurabh Patel from Botad and former state party chief R C Faldu from Jamnagar-South. The third list released on Monday has dropped 16 sitting legislators, including three ministers, and given tickets to 10 legislators. The party has so far announced its nominees for 134 out of the 182 seats in the Gujarat Assembly.
After the Congress list of candidates were released on Sunday evening, the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) workers protested in front of the houses of Congress leaders and party offices. They were upset that only two of its members have been given tickets. The Hardik Patel-led outfit had demanded 20. While the PAAS asked the two not to file their nominations, one of the two did.
Hardik Patel cancelled his rally in Rajkot, where he was supposed to announce support for the Congress party, after the row over ticket distribution.