NEW DELHI : Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi is likely to be elevated as party chief at the culmination of party's organisatonal polls in October, party sources said on Tuesday. They said Congress President Sonia Gandhi may step down ahead of Rahul's likely elevation. The party on Tuesday released a schedule for the organisational elections which entail election of Congress President by October 15.
The schedule was released after a meeting of Congress Working Committee (CWC), the highest decision-making body of the party.
The Congress had deferred the organisational elections after Sonia Gandhi's five-year term as party chief ended in 2015.
Sonia Gandhi became party chief in 1998 and is the longest-serving party President.
There have been demands from within the party that Rahul Gandhi, who became its Vice-President in 2013, should take over party reigns from his mother Sonia Gandhi.
But the Congress faced a series of electoral reverses after its debacle in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, in which Rahul Gandhi was the party's lead campaigner.
Even as the party has faced mounting electoral challenges, its poor electoral run has led to repeated speculation about the timing of Rahul Gandhi's elevation.
Party sources said Rahul Gandhi's likely elevation will mark a generational change as it prepares for the the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The likely elevation will be weeks before the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat where the Congress faces tough challenge from the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The sources said the likely elevation at the end of organisational elections will also fit in with Rahul Gandhi's emphasis on fostering internal democracy in the party. Sonia Gandhi has also been dealing with some health issues of late.
In her remarks at the CWC meeting here, Sonia Gandhi said the ongoing organisational elections must be completed with utmost speed and sincerity.
According to the election schedule, Congress membership drive has be completed by May 15 and election of presidents of booth committees by August 20.
Elections of block Congress chiefs, members of District Congress Committees and members of Pradesh Congress Committees has to be concluded by September 4.
The elections of President, Vice-President, Treasurer and Executive panel of District Congress Committees has to be completed by September 15 and that of these posts in the Pradesh Congresss Committees (PCC) by October 15.
Elections of All India Congress Committee members by the respective PCCs and of the Congress President also has to be concluded by October 15.
According to the schedule, members of the CWC will be elected by AICC members at the party plenary, for which dates will be decided later.