Digvijaya Singh, a veteran of Congress and a longtime Gandhi family loyalist, will contest the party’s presidential race, expected next month, sources told NDTV. The former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh will arrive in Delhi tonight and present the nomination within two days, the sources said. Mr. Singh, who is in Kerala for the Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi, however, denied this and said that he has not yet discussed the matter with the Gandhi.
The 75-year-old has been dodging a straight answer on whether he would run since the party’s election was announced.
During a discussion about the clash between Shashi Tharoor and Ashok Gehlot earlier this month, Singh said: “I’m not ruling myself out too, why do you want to leave me out?”
At a press conference in Jabalpur on Friday, he said he would not take part in the Congress presidential election, but would follow instructions from higher party authorities.
Asked about the possibility of his participation today, Mr. Singh said: “I have not discussed (the matter) with anyone. I have not sought permission from the higher command… Leave it to me whether I will participate or not.” .
Suspense over the congressional elections, in which someone other than Gandhi is expected to be elected after more than 20 years, has spiked after the rebellion by loyalists to Prime Minister Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan. So far, Shashi Tharoor is the only one to declare his candidacy.
The Gandhis do not support any candidate and maintain that the election is open to all.
Gehlot, another longtime loyal member of the family, was seen as the favourite, until the rebellion of his supporters upset the Gandhis and turned the tables.
Whether or not Gehlot will compete is now a gray area. Although a section of the party leaders have started informal talks with him to resolve the Rajasthan situation, it is not clear whether his scope includes the internal elections.
Gehlot’s supporters have not withdrawn their three-point demand, which includes a decision on the post of Chief Minister after the internal elections. This would lead to a potential conflict of interest if Mr. Gehlot is elected head of the party, giving him the power to make a decision about his successor.
Today, the Rajasthan leaders said that it is not about him resigning from the party. The sources said that Mr. Gehlot will head to Delhi later today and meet Sonia Gandhi tomorrow.
On Monday, a day after the Rajasthan rebellion, another former Madhya Pradesh chief minister, Kamal Nath, met with Sonia Gandhi. He, however, dispelled speculation about her candidacy and said that he wants to focus on Madhya Pradesh.
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