Sonia Gandhi looks set to be elected unopposed for a record fourth term as Congress president, with party leaders from across the country heading for the Capital on Thursday to file as many as 50-odd nominations on her behalf. Though Thursday is the last date for filing nominations, Ms. Gandhi's unanimous re-election to the top party post is a mere formality.

Top party leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Leader of the Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee, party general-secretary and Ms. Gandhi's son Rahul Gandhi, as well as several Union Ministers and party Chief Ministers are expected to file papers on her behalf. The election process was set in motion last week with the issue of the notification.

In 2004, Ms. Gandhi, who doubles as United Progressive Alliance chairperson, led the Congress-led alliance to victory after a gap of eight years in the political wilderness, and repeated the same in 2009.

Ms. Gandhi has also created a record as the longest serving Congress chief, heading the party since April 1998 when she replaced Sitaram Kesri. In these 12 years at the helm of the party, she has been challenged only once, a decade ago, when Jitendra Prasada threw his hat in the ring, only to be defeated resoundingly.

Since the party constitution says the Congress president need not personally file nomination papers, the mandatory 10 Pradesh Congress Committee delegates will go to 10 Janpath on Thursday to take her consent on them, party media chairman Janardan Dwivedi said. Ms. Gandhi's papers will then be submitted by the proposers before the Central Election Authority, ready for scrutiny the next day.

“If no other nomination is filed, the result can be declared the day after tomorrow [Saturday],” Mr. Dwivedi told journalists

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