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The Congress set the ball rolling for the election of a new party president with the issue of poll notification today. No nomination was received on the first day. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who is set to take over the reins of the party from his mother, is likely to file his papers on the last day of filing of nomination on December 4. Decks have been cleared for electing Rahul Gandhi as the new Congress president, succeeding his mother Sonia Gandhi, who has held the post for 19 years in a row now. The schedule for the presidential election was approved by the party's highest decision-making body -- the Congress Working Committee -- in its meeting on November 20. As per the schedule, filing of nominations began today and will end on December 4 and after scrutiny the next day, the list of valid nominations will be published the same day at 3:30 pm. Rahul Gandhi is likely to emerge as the lone candidate in the fray. The last date for withdrawal of candidature is December 11, and the poll, if necessary, will be held on December 16 and the counting will take place on December 19. With the start of the nomination process today, the chairman of the party's Central Election Authority, Mullapally Ramachandran, was in his office at the party headquarters where some leaders also met him and withdraw some nomination papers. Sources said that around 70 nomination forms were given out to party leaders. Each valid nomination paper has to be proposed by 10 state party unit delegates and a number of state units are likely to file nominations proposing Rahul Gandhi as their candidate for the presidential election.
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