Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today filed his nomination papers for the post of party president, paving the way for a generational shift in the leadership of the party headed by his mother Sonia Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi was accompanied by a host of senior party leaders, including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, as he filed his papers to become the party president.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, one of the leaders who have proposed Rahul's name, was not present.
The 47-year-old Gandhi scion is likely to emerge as the lone candidate in the fray, clearing the decks for his elevation to the party's top post, succeeding his mother, who has held the post for 19 years in a row.
"Rahul ji has been the darling of the Congress...," Manmohan Singh told reporters at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters.
"Congress president Smt Sonia Gandhi has served the Congress party and, through the Congress party, the country for the last 19 years. This is yet another step forward in that direction. Rahul Gandhi will carry on the great traditions of the Congress party," he said.
Rahul Gandhi arrived at the Congress headquarters around 10.30 am and filed his papers around 11 am. There were five sets of nomination forms filed on his behalf by top Congress leaders, including CWC members, party general secretaries, in-charge in various states and chief ministers of party-ruled states.
Among those who proposed Rahul Gandhi's name in the first set of nomination papers were Sonia Gandhi, Motilal Vora, Ahmed Patel, Mohsina Kidwai, Kamal Nath, Ashok Gehlot, Mukul Wasnik, Sheila Dikshit, Tarun Gogoi and Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanaswamy.
Party leaders Manmohan Singh, Oscar Fernandes, P Chidambaram, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Anand Sharma, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his Meghalaya counterpart Mukul Sangma proposed his name in the second set of nomination papers.
Today is the last date for filing nominations.
No one else had filed papers till Sunday, said Mullapally Ramachandran, the chairman of the party's Central Election Authority.
Rahul Gandhi sought the blessings of former president Pranab Mukherjee and Manmohan Singh before filing his nomination, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted.
The last date for withdrawal of the candidature is December 11. The poll, if necessary, will be held on December 16 and the counting will take place on December 19.