Sonia Gandhi can become party chief 40 times: Congress

     Reacting to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad's remarks that Sonia Gandhi should offer the position of Congress president to someone from outside the Gandhi family, the Congress on Thursday said she can become the party chief as many as 40 times. "We do not discuss the constitution of another party. Why four times she (Gandhi) could be the party president 40 times if the party wants," said AICC General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi. "This democracy has seen that Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister for 17 long years and almost similar was the case with Indira Gandhi. Since, other people do not get a chance they talk about it," he added, hitting out at Prasad. Prasad had earlier said Sonia Gandhi should offer the position of party chief to somebody outside the Gandhi family just as she had "sacrificed" the post of Prime Minister. Earlier today, the process of re-electing Sonia Gandhi as Congress President was set in motion with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi proposing her name for the top post along with a host of other party leaders. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda proposed the name of Gandhi, 63, along with the other Congress leaders. Sonia Gandhi's nomination was later submitted to chairman of the party's Central Election Authority, Oscar Fernandes, who is the returning officer for the poll. The election process was set in motion last week with the issue of the notification. The scrutiny of nominations will be held on September 3 as per the election schedule. The last date of withdrawal is September 10 and the polling date is September 17. The counting of votes will take place on September 21. Gandhi, who is also the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson, has created a record for the longest tenure as Congress chief by steering the party's affairs since April 1998 when she replaced the late Sitaram Kesri.

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