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Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot sure of 'unaffected relationship' with Gandhi family

Jaipur: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday exuded confidence to retain his 'good relations' with the Gandhi family even after the declaration of the results of Congress presidential polls.
Gehlot was one of the contenders for the top post of the grand old party but eventually decided to "not participate" as his candidature created a political crisis in Rajasthan. "Today is a historic day, the election for Congress president is taking place today after 22 years. This election gives the message of internal harmony in the party. My relation with the Gandhi family will be same even after 19 Oct (day of the counting of votes)," Ashok Gehlot told reporters here.
For casting their vote for party's next president, as many as 416 people are expected to vote for the Congress' next president in Rajasthan, State Returning Officer Rajendra Singh Kumpawat said.
Kumpawat said that the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee has made arrangements so that 414 leaders related to the state Congress and two Returning Officers can cast their votes.
Voting for the Congress party presidential polls commenced at 10 am today and ends at 4 pm. Results will be declared on October 19.
The fate of the Congress party will be decided by over 9,000 Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) delegates who comprise the electoral college for electing the party chief.
Shashi Tharoor and Mallikarjun Kharge are up against each other in the race for the post of Congress president.
Earlier, due to signature issues, former Jharkhand Minister KN Tripathi's nomination for the Congress presidential election was rejected.
Meanwhile, Congress veteran, Kharge received support from nearly 30 Congress leaders for the party's presidential polls, including Digvijaya Singh who pulled out from the race and extended his support to Kharge, who he said is a senior and respected leader of the party, and against whom he "cannot think of contesting."
Singh was the second Congress leader to pull out of the race after Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot announced he would not contest the elections following the political turmoil in his state.
In the national capital, interim president Sonia Gandhi, General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh cast their vote for the next president at the headquarters of the All India Congress Committee.
Congress MPs P Chidambaram, Jairam Ramesh and other party leaders also voted for their desired candidate to hold the post.
After casting the vote, Sonia Gandhi said that she had been voting for the day since a long time.
"I have been waiting for a long time," Sonia Gandhi said as she was asked about her happiness by the mediapersons.
Shashi Tharoor said the revival of the grand old party has begun whatever the outcome and that the fate of the Indian National Congress lies in the hands of the party workers.
Tharoor said that he was confident of winning the election but acknowledged the odds stacked against him.
Tharoor also said he had spoken to Kharge earlier in the day.
"Today I spoke to Mr Kharge and said whatever has happened, we remain colleagues and friends," Tharoor said.
Kharge, on the other hand, said, "it is part of our internal election. Whatever we said to each other is on a friendly note. Together we have to build the party. (Shashi) Tharoor telephoned me and wished me luck and I also said the same."
Meanwhile, Congress general secretary in charge of communications Jairam Ramesh said that Congress was the only political party to hold elections for its president.
It is not the first time that a non-Gandhi leader is contesting for the party presidency post-Independence, Jitendra Prasad contested for the post of the president about 22 years ago against Sonia Gandhi in which she emerged as a winner holding the mantle of the party for 20 years.
Sonia Gandhi is the longest-serving president of the party, having held the office for over twenty years from 1998 to 2017 and since 2019.
This time no member of the Gandhi family is contesting for the post of president.
This is the sixth time in its nearly 137-year-old history that polls are being conducted to elect the national president of the party. In the 2017 elections, Rahul Gandhi became the president unopposed. (ANI)

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