New Delhi: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi is likely to be elected as the party chief after Diwali, with the nearly six-month-long electoral process nearing completion and the schedule of the party President's election to be announced soon.
According to Congress sources, members of the party's Central Election Authority (CEA), which is overseeing the election, are expected to meet Congress President Sonia Gandhi in a day or so to apprise her of the completion of various phases of the poll.
The sources said the Congress President would then call a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) to approve a tentative schedule of the polls and then it would be notified by the CEA.
The sources said that the meeting of the CWC, the party's highest decision making body, could take place on October 15.
Most states where the organisational elections were held have completed the process of electing members of Pradesh Congress Committees (PCCs), which form the electoral college for the election. They have also passed unanimous resolutions that Rahul Gandhi should take over as the President of the All India Congress Committee (AICC).
Party sources said the states which have elected members to the PCC and passed the resolution for appointment of Rahul Gandhi as party chief include Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, Maharashtra, Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Madhya Pradesh.
The PCC in Uttar Pradesh, which has the largest number of PCC members, is expected to adopt the resolution on Thursday.
The PCCs are also passing resolutions to authorise the Congress President to appoint the chiefs of party units.
The organisational elections are running slightly behind schedule as the party had planned to complete the entire process, including election of the Congress President, by October 15.
The elevation of Rahul Gandhi, 47, has been in the works for a long time, with party leaders stating from time to time that he should take over as the party chief. Gandhi was appointed Congress Vice President in 2013.
Interestingly, the elevation will come ahead of crucial assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh where the Congress is facing a stiff challenge from the BJP. While the party would face anti-incumbency in Himachal Pradesh, it has been out of power in Gujarat for almost 20 years.
A party leader said the timing of Gandhi's elevation was appropriate as pushing it further would be taking it too close to the next Lok Sabha polls.
"Our assessment is that the party's campaign is fast picking up in Gujarat. And the party has bright prospects to get re-elected in Himachal Pradesh," he said.
The sources said organisational elections were not conducted in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura because these states would face assembly elections by next year.
The last presidential elections of the party were held in 2010 and Sonia Gandhi was elected party chief for five years. The party later sought extension of time from the Election Commission for holding the polls.
Sonia Gandhi has been the longest serving president of the party, having taken over its reigns in 1998. She had faced a contest in the 2001 presidential elections from Jitendra Prasada.
After Rahul Gandhi's election as the Congress President, an AICC plenary is expected to be held by December this year for his ceremonial take over and ratification of his election. The election of the CWC members will also take place at the plenary.