Cong president or not, Rahul will always have pre-eminent place in party: Chidambaram

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram
Senior Congress leader P ChidambaramFile

New Delhi: Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Sunday favoured a consensus for the post of the AICC chief and asserted that Rahul Gandhi will always have a "pre-eminent place" in the party irrespective of whether he is president as he is the "acknowledged leader" of the rank and file.

So far, Rahul Gandhi has declined to take on the mantle of party presidency but may change his mind, the former Union minister and Congress Working Committee member said, just days ahead of the notification of polls to elect the AICC chief.

In an interview with PTI, Chidambaram said there was no occasion for any controversy over the fairness and transparency of the party president polls and asserted that had central election authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry's last statement on the concerns of some of the leaders come on the first day, the matter would have stood resolved.

Underlining that it is not the practice of any political party to publish the roll of the electoral college, he said the PCC-wise electoral roll will be available for inspection at the office of the PCC concerned, while the all-India electoral roll will be available for inspection at the office of the AICC.

"Every nominated candidate will be entitled to a copy of the electoral roll. Mr Mistry has since clarified these self-evident points and the MPs have said they were satisfied. The matter is rested," Chidambaram said.

Lok Sabha members Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewari, Karti Chidambaram, Pradyut Bordoloi and Abdul Khaleque had written to Mistry, seeking clarity on the issue of electoral rolls, to which the party's poll panel chief had clarified that anyone wanting to file nomination for the post of Congress president will be able see the list of the over 9,000 PCC delegates at the AICC's central election authority office from September 20.

P Chidambaram also asked if the media had raised such issues when the BJP or any other party held its party elections.

"I cannot recall Mr J P Nadda asking for the electoral roll or filing his nomination," he said.

Asked whether consensus or elections would be better for the post of AICC president, Chidambaram said while election is the default option, "the better course and all parties follow this is to elect a national president by consensus".

"If my recollection is correct, Mr Nadda, and before him Mr Amit Shah, Mr Rajnath Singh and Mr Gadkari, were all elected by consensus," he said.

On whether Gandhi will heed appeals of party workers and leaders, Chidambaram said he did not know the answer to that question.

"Rahul Gandhi is the acknowledged leader of the rank and file of the party. They want him to be the president of the party also. So far, he has declined. He may change his mind," the senior Congress leader told PTI.

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