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IANS

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has emerged as the top choice for the Congress president's post. Sources have indicated that Sonia Gandhi has requested him to take over before she heads abroad for medical checkup and treatment.

Sources said that Sonia Gandhi had said this to Ashok Gehlot in a meeting. The Gehlot camp has not confirmed the development, but sources have confirmed that the Congress is looking beyond the Gandhis for the top post.

The Central Election Authority of the Congress is awaiting a nod from the party's working committee to announce the schedule for electing the next Congress President as the grand old party is still in search of a consensus candidate for the top post after refusal by Rahul Gandhi.

While sources said that the top choice is Ashok Gehlot, the Rajasthan Chief Minister had said on Monday that Rahul Gandhi should rethink his decision as it will demoralise the party workers. Gehlot is averse to the idea of becoming party president and has stated that Rahul Gandhi was the top and unanimous choice for party president.

The sources also said that the Congress wants to complete the organisational election by September, as it does not want to be on the firing line of the G-23 grouping after the resignation of Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma from the state committees and with Haryana strongman Bhupinder Singh Hooda batting for the cause of senior party leaders.

Also, Manish Tewari had taken a contrary stand to that of the Congress on the Agnipath scheme, which made the party uncomfortable.

Another idea was mooted some time ago, according to which Sonia Gandhi will continue as the party president while working presidents will be appointed for each zone.

The other name doing the rounds for the top party post was Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel.

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