In yet another twist in the tale of the Congress president polls, Digvijaya Singh on Friday said he was dropping out of the race for the top post and announced his support for Mallikarjun Kharge, who is likely to be in the fray.
Today is the last day to file nominations for the polls. Singh had said on Thursday that he would file his nominations today. However, after reports of Kharge also mulling contesting the party's internal polls, he decided to drop out of the contest.
Singh made the announcement after he met Kharge this morning at the latter's residence.
Speaking to reporters here, Singh said he "cannot think of contesting an election" against a senior leader like Kharge.
"Kharge is my leader and my senior. I went to his residence yesterday and asked if he is contesting. If he does, I will not fill up the form. He said he did not intend to contest. I came to know through the media that he is a candidate. I went to meet him this morning. I said if he is filing the nomination, I am with him. He is a senior and respected leader of the party and I cannot think of contesting an election against him," he said.
"If Kharge had told me earlier, he would not have gone to collect the form. Now he intends to file his nomination, I will become his proposer," Singh added.
He said he will not compromise on his "commitment to the Nehru-Gandhi family".
"I have always worked for Congress all my life and will continue to do so. I do not compromise on three things. First, Dalit, tribal and poor. Second, I do not compromise with those involved in disrupting communal peace. I will not compromise on my commitment to the Nehru-Gandhi family, neither have I ever done it," he said.
The quick turn of events is taking place on the last day of the filing of the nominations which closes at 3 pm today.
Singh is the second Congress leader to pull out of the race after Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot announced he would not contest the elections following the political turmoil in his state.
Sources on Friday said that no leader from Congress's "G-23" will file a nomination for the post of Congress president.
Congress leader Pramod Tiwari said he will be the proposer for Kharge.
Meanwhile, Jharkhand Congress leader KN Tripathi said he will file his nomination at 1 pm today.
"I'll file my nomination at 1 pm today (for the Congress president post). Rahul Gandhi and party chief Sonia Gandhi have said they're neither requesting anyone to contest nor declining anyone...we want to see what the rank and file of the party wants," he said.
With the Gandhis not running for the top post, the grand old party is all set to get a non-Gandhi president after over 25 years.
The results of the party polls will be declared on October 19.
(With inputs from ANI)