Congress Seems Headed For Digvijaya Singh vs Shashi Tharoor

Mr Singh, who is in Kerala for the Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi, however, denied it, saying he is yet to discuss the matter with the Gandhis.

"I am not ruling myself out also, why do you want to keep me out?" Digvijay Singh earlier said.

New Delhi:

Digvijaya Singh, Congress veteran and a longtime loyalist of the Gandhi family, will enter the race for the party president, due next month, sources have told NDTV. The former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh will reach Delhi tonight and will file the nomination within two days, sources said. Mr Singh, who is in Kerala for the Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi, however, denied it, saying he is yet to discuss the matter with the Gandhis.  

The 75-year-old has been evading a straight reply on whether he would contest since the party elections were announced.  

During a discussion on the face-off between Shashi Tharoor and Ashok Gehlot earlier this month, Mr Singh had told NDTV, "I am not ruling myself out also, why do you want to keep me out?"

At a press conference in Jabalpur on Friday, he said he would not contest the Congress Presidential election, but would follow instructions of the higher authorities in the party.

Asked about the possibility of his contesting earlier today, Mr Singh had said, "I have not discussed (the matter) with anybody. I have not sought permission from the high command...  Leave it to me whether I will contest or not".

The suspense over the Congress elections, in which a non-Gandhi is expected to be elected after more than 20 years, has spiked after the rebellion by loyalists of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan. So far, Shashi Tharoor is the only one to declare his candidature.

The Gandhis are not supporting any candidate, maintaining that the election is open to all.  

Mr Gehlot, another longtime loyalist of the family, was seen as the front-runner, till the rebellion by his supporters upset the Gandhis and put a twist on the matter.  

Whether Mr Gehlot will contest or not is now a grey area. While a section of party leaders started back-channel talks with him to resolve the Rajasthan situation, it is not clear whether its ambit includes the internal election.  

Mr Gehlot's supporters have not withdrawn their three-point demand, which includes a decision on the Chief Minister's post after the internal elections. This would lead to a potential conflict of interest if Mr Gehlot is elected the party chief, empowering him to take a call on his successor.  

Today, Rajasthan leaders said there is no question of him resigning the party post. Sources said Mr Gehlot will head for Delhi later today and meet Sonia Gandhi tomorrow.  

On Monday -- a day after the Rajasthan rebellion -- another former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath, had met Sonia Gandhi. He, however, dispelled speculation on his candidature, saying he wants to focus on Madhya Pradesh.

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