Sonia set to be Congress president again

Gandhi, who has remained at the helm for 12 years, has created a record of being the longest-serving party president. She took over the reins of the Congress in April 1998 following the exit of Sitaram Kesri after the party's dismal showing in the Lok Sabha polls.

Congress leaders from Maharashtra, where the party has been in power for over a decade, have already approached the central leadership to hold the plenary in Mumbai where the party was formed way back in 1885.

Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and PCC President Manikrao Thakre met Gandhi On Saturday and discussed the preparation for the celebration of 125 years of the party and also the organisational elections in the state.

While no decision has been taken on the venue for holding the plenary, it is significant that Mumbai had hosted the 1985 centenary of the Congress when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister. It was in Mumbai in August 1942 that Mahatma Gandhi had launched the Quit India Movement which eventually resulted in Independence five years later.

Party sources said that though 63-year-old Gandhi was initially supposed to take over as party chief for the third consecutive time by the end of July, the process could be delayed slightly as Congress Working Committee is yet to finalise the election schedule.

There is, however, no immediate official word from the party on when the CWC would meet. Party leaders said there was no "tight schedule" for the election as it depended on the report of the Pradesh Returning Officers of various states and the election of AICC delegates.

Gandhi has so far been unanimously elected for the post, barring in 2000 when Jitendra Prasada, a senior leader from Uttar Pradesh, had thrown his hat in the ring but failed miserably.

The Congress President completed the process of reviewing the status of the organisational polls and party's preparations for celebrating the completion of 125 years of Congress on Saturday. She has met the AICC general secretaries in-charge, PCC Presidents and CLP leaders of almost all the states and Union Territories separately to get a feedback on what is happening in the states.

The country has been divided into five zones for the 125 years celebrations and there would be one zonal conference each for which a coordination committee has already been formed.

AICC General Secretary in-charge of the state where the conference would be held would be the coordinator with PCC chief and CLP leaders of the state concerned as members of the committee.

The dates and venues for the proposed zonal conferences have not yet been formalised but they are expected to be annoucned shortly. Kolkata and Jaipur are being talked about as venues apart from three more cities.

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