National

Congress passes resolution to make Rahul party President; voting on 16th Dec

New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi's long-expected takeover of the Congress is likely on December 4, the party indicated after a meeting of its top leaders at its chief Sonia Gandhi's 10 Janpath home in Delhi this morning.

The party has announced the timeline for its internal election, widely seen as a formality with leaders endorsing Rahul Gandhi's name for the top job. The 47-year-old Vice President is set to succeed his mother Sonia Gandhi and is expected to be elected unopposed like she has been for the last 17 years.

Mr Gandhi is expected to be elected unopposed but the Congress has declared that the last date for any challenger to come forward is December 4. If there were to be an election, it would be held on December 15 and results would be declared on December 19.

Effectively, Rahul Gandhi is likely to be elected the Congress boss before the Gujarat assembly elections, which begin on December 9, the first of two days of voting. The Gujarat results will be announced on December 18.

It was not necessary, said party leaders, for Sonia Gandhi, 70, to summon the 25-odd members of the Congress Working Committee, the party's highest decision-making body, for a meeting to officially approve the schedule of the party election, but she insisted on it.

The Election Commission has set the party a deadline of December 31 to complete its organisational elections, after giving it an extension.

Sonia Gandhi had said last month that Rahul Gandhi, seen as waiting in the wings for years, would be elevated soon. Mrs Gandhi has been Congress President since 1998, making her the longest-serving chief of the party. She has been unwell in recent years and has scaled back her public engagements, which has meant Rahul Gandhi being at the forefront.

He became the party's number 2 in January 2013. The CWC has already said it "unanimously" supports his elevation.

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