The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Congress chorus for Sonia
- Singh and Rahul among 87 others proposing second term for party president

New Delhi, May 25: Rahul Gandhi today joined Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and eighty-seven other party leaders to propose a second three-year term for Sonia Gandhi as Congress president.

By the time the process of filing nominations came to an abrupt halt following the death of sports minister Sunil Dutt, 89 sets of nominations had been filed in Soniaís favour, seven more than last time when organisational elections were held in 2000.

Party managers in charge of Soniaís re-election have planned more nominations ' at least five sets from big sta-tes, three from mid-sized ones and two from smaller states and Union territories. No nominations were filed proposing any other candidate.

Oscar Fernandes, the chairman of the partyís central election authority, said nominations could be filed till Friday. However, it is a foregone conclusion that Soniaís re-election would be unanimous. Fernandes said Sonia could be declared formally elected on Saturday.

As if to signal the unanimity, Lok Sabha MP from Shahjahanpur Jitin Prasada was among 10 young leaders who seconded Rahulís nomination paper proposing another term for his mother. Jitinís father, the late Jitendra Prasada, had contested against Sonia in 2000.

In the 1997 elections, Sharad Pawar and the late Rajesh Pilot had unsuccessfully taken on then party chief Sitaram Kesri.

Before the process of filing nominations opened this morning, the Prime Minister, his ministerial colleagues, senior leaders and several party chief ministers met Sonia at her 10 Janpath residence and asked her to agree to another term at the helm.

Soon after filing the nomination paper with Fernandes, Singh said he hoped Sonia would be elected unanimously. It was not just the expectation of party workers but the entire nation, he added.

Singhís proposal was seconded by Shivraj Patil, Arjun Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad, P.R. Kyndiah, Ambika Soni, Digvijay Singh, M.L. Fotedar, G. Venkataswamy and Mohsina Kidwai. Defence minister Pranab Mukherjee filed another set. Rahulís nomination paper was one of the five filed from Uttar Pradesh.

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