The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) reportedly supposes that it might find itself in a spot if the leadership contest for the post of All India Congress Committee (AICC) president comes down to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Shashi Tharoor, MP.
Speculation about Mr. Tharoor’s possible candidature reached a crescendo on Tuesday following reports that AICC president Sonia Gandhi did not object to him vying for the post.
The Congress has been at pains to insist that the party has no official candidate. However, some sections in the KPCC viewed Mr. Gehlot as the establishment’s choice if Rahul Gandhi chose to remain above the fray.
A senior leader said, optimally, the KPCC wanted to avoid a contentious organisational election that could draw public attention away from Mr. Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra.
He said a possible Gehlot-Tharoor contest was not advantageous for the party’s cohesion in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. However, the “overwhelming support” for Mr. Gandhi would not preclude an election in the event of a contest.
He said as many as 310 KPCC general body members would cast their votes secretly at the party's State headquarters in Indira Bhavan. The electoral college comprised 282 KPCC members, 14 selected Congress Legislative Party members, and former KPCC presidents.
For now, the odds appeared loaded against any contestant who did not bear the imprimatur of the Gandhi family. The KPCC's recent general body reportedly witnessed T. Sarathchandra Prasad slamming KPCC president K. Sudhakaran for urging a "conscience vote" in the event of Mr. Tharoor's candidature.
Former KPCC president K. Muraleedharan, MP, said he would vote only for a candidate endorsed by the “Nehru family”.
The filing of nominations for the presidential election will commence on September 24.