New Delhi: Amid talk that Rahul Gandhi will be anointed as the party chief, AICC on Thursday announced a new schedule for organisational elections in which the next Congress President will be elected by September 30.
A highlight of the new schedule is that for the first time, party polls will be held in two phases, first phase covering 18 states and Union territories and the second phase almost equal number of states and Union territories.
Interestingly, the party elections will be over by July 31 in 18 states including Gujarat, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and a host of states in North-east in the first phase.
The second phase will cover Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Telangana.
The Congress chief will be elected by September 30.
Sonia Gandhi has created a record of having the longest tenure at the helm of the oldest political party when she completed 17 years as Congress President on March 14.
She took the top party post amid a complete collapse in 1998 replacing the late Sitaram Kesri at a time when the party had faced a crisis with the BJP in the ascendence.
The organisational polls are being held at a time when the Congress has faced its worst debacle in the Lok Sabha polls in May 2014 after being at the top for a decade since coming to power in 2004. It could manage just 44 seats in the last Lok Sabha elections.
Organisational elections are being held when the talk is growing in the party that sooner rather than later Sonia Gandhi will pass the mantle to her son Rahul Gandhi, who was made the Congress Vice President in January 2013 at the Jaipur Chintan Shivir.
The schedule which was finalised by the Central Election Authority of the party headed by senior leader Mullappally Ramachandran was released by AICC General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi.
Under the new schedule, enrolment of members has been extended from March 31 to May 15 after which the District Congress Committees will publish the preliminary list of members by May 25.
In the states which will have party polls in the first phase, publication of final list of members as also the final list of eligible contestents will be done by July 5 after disposing of appeals at all levels.
Election of President and Executive of the Primary Committees will be completed between July 10 to 15.
In stage-II, the elections to the President, Vice President, Treasurer and Executive of the Block Congress Committees and election of six members of the DCC and one member of the Pradesh Congress Committee by the Block Congress Committees will be completed between 16 to 20 July.
It will be followed by election of President, Vice President, Treasurer and Executive Committee of the District Congress Committee will be held between July 20 and 25.
In the first phase, the crucial election of the Congress President will be held between July 25 and 31 in which duration the election of the Pradesh Congress Committee President, Vice President, Executive Committee and AICC members will also be made by PCC general body.
Election of the members of the Congress Working Committee will be made by the AICC members during the Plenary session of the party, the dates for which is yet to be finalised.
In states going to polls under the second phase, the election of President and executive of primary committees and Block members will take place between July 28 to August 14. Election of President, Vice President, Treasurer and Executive Committee of Block Congress Committees will be over between Aug 20 to 31.
Elections for President and other office bearer posts of the District Congress Committee will be held between Sept 1 to 15.
Election of PCC President, Vice Presidents, treasurer and Executive members and AICC members by the PCC general body and the election of the Congress President will be held between Sept 21 to 30.