Congress MP Manish Tewari may become the second member of the party’s “G-23” group of dissenters to join the increasingly chaotic contest for Congress chief after Shashi Tharoor, sources have hinted.
Following Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s pull-out and Digvijaya Singh’s entry in the scene on Thursday, some of the G-23 leaders, including Prithviraj Chavan, Bhupinder Hooda and Manish Tewari, met at the residence of Anand Sharma and are learnt to have discussed the situation.
A decision on whether Manish Tiwari – who has been keen to run – should contest the election would be taken on Friday morning, sources said.
Shashi Tharoor, who was part of the G-23, will be filing his nomination papers for the top party post on Friday.
Mr Tewari later told reporters that no one has filed the nominations yet and things will be clear only after Friday.
He said the G-23 group sat for deliberations and discussed the situation.
Mr Chavan also said that it was good that internal polls were being held in a democratic manner and stated that they had earlier thanked Congress chief Sonia Gandhi for the free and fair elections.
“Let us see who files the nominations, and we will support the best candidate in the fray,” he said after the meeting.
The G-23 grouping had written to Sonia Gandhi seeking organisational overhaul and internal polls at all levels.
The Congress’s bid to hold elections to pick a new, non-Gandhi chief, has seen several plot twists.
While Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was reported to be a favourite of the Gandhis for the election, he announced he would not run on Thursday following a near mutiny in his state by his loyalists who did not want his rival Sachin Pilot to be named his successor.
Not long after, Digvijaya Singh told NDTV that he would run, given that now the “field is clear”. He too is likely to file his papers on Friday.
But the suspense over the elections may be far from settled, even if Mr Tewari’s entry makes it a triangular contest.
Congress sources have told NDTV that the party leadership is looking for a preferred candidate for the party’s top post.
There is a possibility that the candidate could be Mukul Wasnik, a staunch Gandhi family loyalist rewarded with a Rajya Sabha seat earlier this year.