CWC draws up 14-point resolution on Day 1; to discuss organisational challenges today
Mallikarjun Kharge with Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Ambika Soni at the CWC meet. Photo: X/@kharge

CWC draws up 14-point resolution on Day 1; to discuss organisational challenges today

The CWC on Saturday discussed failures of the Modi government and identified political and socio-economic issues around which the party can build its electoral narrative for assembly and Lok Sabha polls

The Congress Working Committee (CWC) adopted a slew of resolutions, on Saturday (September 16), firming up contours of the broadside that the Congress party seeks to launch against the BJP-led central government not just during the forthcoming special session of Parliament but in the months leading up to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

The CWC, the highest decision-making body of the Congress party, slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government for having “practically destroyed the principles and practices of cooperative federalism”. Asserting that the BJP government was pushing a political discourse that is “laced with poison, promotes hate speech and violence, encourages divisive forces, and polarises society,” the CWC also accused the Centre of launching an “assault on the Constitution” while calling upon “all democratic forces to safeguard the foundational ideas of the Constitution”.

First meeting since CWC revamp

The focus on the first day of the CWC’s two-day long deliberations being held in Hyderabad was on discussing the failures of the Modi government and identifying political and socio-economic issues around which the party can build its electoral narrative for the five assembly polls due later this year and for the Lok Sabha polls that are due six months from now. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge informed the CWC that discussions on the Congress’s “organizational issues surrounding the upcoming Legislative Assembly and Lok Sabha elections” will be held on Sunday (September 17).

The CWC is meeting for the first time since it was revamped by Kharge last month. Kharge had chosen to depart with the convention of holding CWC meetings at the Congress headquarters in Delhi and opted, instead, for Hyderabad as venue of the committee’s first meeting in a bid to set the tone for the party’s election campaign in poll-bound Telangana.

As this is also the first meeting of the CWC since the formation of the Opposition’s 28-party INDIA coalition, Congress leaders also discussed at length various aspects of the alliance, with some leaders raising concerns over seat-sharing arrangements with allies in states such as Punjab, Delhi and Bihar while other urging the party leadership to finalise these negotiations soon. An unequivocal thumbs up for the INDIA coalition came from former Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who in her brief remarks at the meeting, is learnt to have urged her colleagues to ensure that the alliance moves forward without any hiccups as the collective goal of its constituents is to defeat the BJP.

Asserting that the “continuing consolidation” of the coalition had “rattled the prime minister and the BJP”, the CWC too resolved to “make the INDIA initiative an ideological and electoral success so that our country is freed from divisive and polarising politics, the forces of social equity and justice are strengthened, and the people get a Union government that is responsible, responsive, sensitive, transparent and accountable.”

On Sunday, as many as 150 Congress leaders from across the country, including 39 regular members of the CWC, permanent and special invitees to the committee, the four chief ministers of Congress-ruled states, members of the party’s parliamentary strategy group as well as chiefs of all state units are expected to be in attendance at the meeting of the extended CWC. Sources said further discussions on the Congress’s role in the INDIA coalition are likely to take place on Sunday when the CWC discusses the party’s electoral preparedness and tries to address organisational challenges.

A bulk of the over four-hour long deliberations on Saturday were meant to identify areas on which the Congress can corner the Modi government, both in Parliament when it convenes for its five special sittings between September 18 and 22 and on the wider electoral arena outside it.

14-point resolution

The 14-point resolution adopted by the CWC on Day 1 was, thus, as much a stark put down of the Modi government as it was an avowal of ideological commitments, electoral promises and administrative policies or programmes that the Congress wishes to canvass before the electorate over the next six months. The CWC members also discussed the stand that the Congress needs to take on contentious issues that have been introduced into public discourse by the BJP in recent weeks, either through the Modi government actual acts of omission and commission or by way of shrewdly spun speculations.

Thus, the resolutions adopted by the CWC on Saturday were a mix of new responses from the Congress leadership to evolving socio-political developments as well as reiterations of the party’s stand on issues such as the Centre’s failure to restore normalcy in strife-torn Manipur, misuse of central probe agencies against political rivals of the BJP, the spiralling crises of unemployment and inflation, Chinese incursions on Indian territory in Ladakh, and the united Opposition’s demand for a Joint Parliamentary into the allegations of financial misconduct against businessman Gautam Adani.

What was hard to ignore was the unsparing tenor of the resolutions that critiqued the Centre on various fronts. The political grapevine in Delhi has been abuzz with speculation over the BJP’s alleged plans to review and rewrite the Constitution ever since Rajya Sabha MP and former Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi made a ‘casual’ remark on the legal soundness of the Basic Structure doctrine. The CWC minced no words in summarily rejecting “the call for a new Constitution and the mischievous argument that the basic structure of the Constitution can be changed”.

Congress calls out ‘assault on Constitution’; One Nation, One Election plan

Its resolution read: “The Modi government’s assault on the Constitution must be condemned and resisted by all democratic forces to safeguard the foundational ideas of the Constitution drafted by Babasaheb Dr Ambedkar and his compatriots. The Constitution reflects the values of the freedom struggle led by Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress. The CWC also calls out the hypocrisy and duplicity of the Modi government which showcases to the world the symbolism of Mahatma Gandhi while giving a free hand to those who defame him and defile his legacy.”

A similarly strongly worded dismissal came from the CWC on the hotly debated issue of the Modi government’s renewed push for rolling out synchronised elections to the state assemblies and Parliament. “The ‘One Nation, One Election’ proposal is yet another brazen attack on the federal structure of the country. The Modi government has systematically undermined federalism through overriding legislation, reduction in the states’ share of tax revenues, misuse of the office of governor, creating roadblocks in implementing schemes and programmes in Opposition-governed states...”, the resolution stated.

Speaking to reporters on the deliberations in the CWC, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said, “We believe that there is a challenge to the Constitutional and federal structure of the country. Federalism has been systematically weakened; state governments have been hampered and hamstrung... ‘One Nation, One Election’ is an assault on the Constitution. We reject it. It is an attack on federalism. It will require at least five Constitutional amendments. The BJP knows it does not have the numbers to pass these Constitutional amendments. Yet if it put forwards this mirage of ‘One Nation, One Election’, it is only to divert attention from the present issues and to create a false narrative.”

The CWC also decided that the Congress will oppose the proposed Bill for amending the act that governs the appointment procedure for Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners. Chidambaram said the proposed amendment, which is listed for consideration and passing in the special Parliament session, will “destroy the independence of the Election Commission”.

The CWC also articulated a clear stand backing caste census and the need for passing the long-pending Women’s Reservation Bill, the former being an issue around which most constituents of the INDIA coalition have also coalesced.

“The CWC also underlines the stubborn refusal of the Modi government to conduct a Caste Census. This refusal in the face of a universal demand has exposed the BJP’s lack of commitment to social and economic justice and its bias against the backward classes, Dalits and tribal people. In this context, the CWC also calls for increasing the existing upper limit of reservations for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and OBCs,” the CWC resolution said while also asserting the party’s demand that “Women’s Reservation Bill be passed during the special session”.

Bharat Jodo Yatra 2.0 on cards?

As reported by The Federal earlier, the CWC also discussed the possibility of launching a second leg of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, though no final decision was taken on the issue at Saturday’s discussions. Sources said an even louder demand for BJY 2.0 is likely to come from party leaders on Sunday when the extended CWC meets for another round of talks.

Chidambaram confirmed to reporters that “there have been requests by members of the CWC that we should have a Bharat Jodo Yatra- 2 from the East to the West… that matter is under consideration”. The CWC resolution did, however, commend Rahul for undertaking the Kanyakumari to Srinagar padyatra from September 2022 to January 2023 and said that “our party organisation at all levels will continue to take forward the spirit, sentiment and purpose of the Bharat Jodo Yatra and keep it alive in every part of our country.”

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