The upcoming three-day Congress plenary session, commencing on Friday, will focus on outlining a definitive plan of action for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and forming alliances with like-minded political parties to counter the BJP.
The Congress top brass will be in attendance at the 85th plenary session that will primarily endorse the presidentship of Mallikarjun Kharge and will pave the way for the new working committee led by him.
The session, which comes in the backdrop of the Bharat Jodo Yatra that has been touted as a success by the party, will be attended by around 15,000 delegates.
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On the first day of the three-day session, the Steering Committee, which is playing the role of the Working Committee (the previous one was dissolved until a new CWC is formed), will also decide on whether there will be elections to the top decision-making body or not.
Sources said while a section within the party, especially the younger lot, wants elections to the CWC, elders in the grand old party want nomination instead to avoid dissidence within and enable cohesion in the top body as the party heads into a tough election cycle ahead.
Assembly polls will be held in nine states this year, including Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan where the Congress rules, and Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka where the party is the principal opposition.
Winning few of the major states this year would be the key to Congress revival at the Centre ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The party currently rules three states on its own Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
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The party seeks to keep bitterness at bay, with most seniors of the belief that consensus is the best form of election.
The CWC has 25 members, including 12 elected members and 11 nominated ones, besides the Congress president and the leader of the party in Parliament, as per the party’s constitution.
The last time elections were held to the CWC were in Kolkata in 1997 under Sitaram Kesri, also attended by Sonia Gandhi.
At the plenary, the party will also give direction to the rank and file to prepare for the state poll cycle ahead in Karnataka, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram. Nagaland and Meghalaya will witness polls on February 27. Tripura elections have already concluded.
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As part of poll preparations, the party would also have to work out solutions to end factionalism in the state units, including those in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Telangana.
Seeking to carry on the momentum gained by the Bharat Jodo Yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, the party may also formulate a plan to launch another yatra from East to West covering the north eastern states starting from Arunachal Pradesh to Gujarat.
The Congress has formed several committees to work out on issues to be deliberated during the session and to organise the conclave.
The plenary comes at a time when the Congress faces an unprecedented challenge to its electoral might and even to its primacy in the opposition block.
While the Congress hopes to stitch an anti-BJP front for 2024 polls having said that it alone has the moral and the organisational power to lead it, clouds of disunity hover all around.
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The TMC, BRS and AAP appear reluctant to accept the Congress stewardship and BRS chief K Chandrashekhar Rao has been holding his own parleys to rein in the BJP.
The TMC had on Wednesday attacked former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi for saying that the ruling party of Bengal was working to help the BJP.
Rahul Gandhi’s remarks are pretty rich especially coming from a party that has lost 40 out of the last 45 Assembly elections in India, the TMC taunted the Congress just ahead of the AICC plenary.
In Bihar too Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has called a meeting of Grand alliance allies on February 25 to coincide with the plenary in signs that have disturbed the Congress, which wants to unseat the BJP.
The plenary, leaders hope, will offer some clarity for the future.
(With agency inputs)