Congress veteran Mallikarjun Kharge will join the contest for Congress president, according to sources who have said that the Leader of Opposition in the Raja Sabha is likely to file his nomination for the party's top post today.
The contest for the post will then be likely to be between Kharge, Digvijaya Singh and Shashi Tharoor, they said.
Nominations for the post of Congress president closes at 3 pm today and results will be declared on October 19.
"Kharge is likely to file his nomination with one section of the Gandhi loyalists approaching him to contest the polls. However, the final decision will be taken shortly," said the sources.
With the Gandhis not running for the top post this time around, the grand old party is all set to get a non-Gandhi president after over 25 years.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was being seen as a frontrunner in the race before he opted to pull out after meeting with Sonia Gandhi on Thursday. Addressing media persons in the national capital after the meeting Gehlot said that he had apologised to her for the scenario emerging in the state triggered by his loyalists.
After announcing his decision to contest in the upcoming Congress presidential polls, veteran Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said that the Nehru-Gandhi family will remain their leader whosoever becomes the president of the party.
According to the sources, Manish Tewari, a face of the G-23 group of leaders (those seeking reforms in the party) is also mulling over filing the nomination for the top post.
G-23 leaders Thursday evening met at the residence of Anand Sharma. Former union minister Manish Tewari, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda were present at the meeting.
According to sources, the leaders discussed the whole situation emerging in the run-up to the Congress presidential polls. The leaders will meet again.
"Nobody has filed a nomination yet. Once it is done, there will be contemplation. The democratic process has begun. BS Hooda, Anand Sharma, Prithviraj Chavan and I sat for deliberation and discussed events," Manish Tewari said while leaving Anand Sharma's residence.
Asked whether G-23 will support candidates whose names have come for Congress presidential poll so far, Tewari said, "Days pass between collecting, filing and withdrawing nomination papers. The decision will be taken at that time. In English, it is called in politics 'it is the preponderance of probabilities'. Let us see what happens tomorrow."
The G-23 leaders had written to Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi seeking organisational overhaul and internal elections at all levels.
"It is good that polls are being held in the party in a democratic way. We thanked Sonia Gandhi for the free-fair polls. Let us see who will file the nomination. We have heard a few names. We will support the best candidate in the field," Prithviraj Chavan told ANI.
The remarks of the G23 leaders indicate that they do not possibly see Shashi Tharoor representing their voice in the election. (ANI)