Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Wednesday said that he will not decline the role of the Congress president if his party members insist, ANI reported.

“If people in the party think I’m needed in the role of party president or chief minister, then I won’t say no,” Gehlot said.

However, he urged party leader Rahul Gandhi to become the Congress chief. On September 18, he passed an informal resolution urging Rahul Gandhi to become the party president.

“If he conducts Bharat Jodo Yatra as party president, then it’ll create an aura for the party,” Gehlot said. The Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra is a 3,570-kilometre-long nationwide tour that will cover 12 states and two Union Territories in about five months.

Gehlot on Tuesday told state Congress MLAs that they will be asked to come to New Delhi if he decides to file his nomination for the party president poll, PTI reported.

State Cabinet Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas said that Gehlot will first visit Kochi to urge MP Rahul Gandhi to contest the election.

Khachariyawas made the statement in a meeting held after the chief minister hosted a dinner for Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar.

The Congress will hold the election to pick its next president on October 17. The result will be declared two days later. On August 22, reports claimed that Rahul Gandhi has refused to contest the election for the Congress president’s post. Incumbent Congress president Sonia Gandhi also reportedly expressed her desire not to continue in the post citing health reasons.

In July 2019, Rahul Gandhi resigned as the Congress chief following the party’s poor performance in the Lok Sabha elections. The Congress had won only 52 of 543 parliamentary seats in the polls.

The process of filing nominations for the Congress election starts on September 24 and will end on September 30.

On Tuesday, there were reports of a meeting between Kerala MP Shashi Tharoor and Sonia Gandhi regarding the poll. Tharoor could also contest for the president’s post.

Sonia Gandhi also met Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal, The Hindu reported. “Whoever wants to file a nomination, can file it,” he told the reporters after the meeting. “We have said it will be an open election, anybody can contest, free and fair election, definitely it will be a transparent election.”

Meanwhile, Jharkhand, Haryana and Goa units of the Congress on Tuesday passed resolutions asking Rahul Gandhi to contest the election, PTI reported.

“The Congress party workers are enthusiastic,” said senior leader Jairam Ramesh. “Rahul Gandhi has not asked anyone to pass any resolution. The Congress president has not asked anyone.”