Congress president polls in Sept; Rahul may make a comeback

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot proposed Rahul Gandhi's name as next party chief, which was supported by Bhupesh Baghel and Charanjit Singh Channi

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When chief ministers of Punjab, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh urged Rahul Gandhi to take up the responsibility of party president once again, he said he will consider their request. File photo.

The Congress Working Committee on Saturday (October 16) decided that the elections to the post of Congress president will be held in September next year.

Interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former party chief Rahul Gandhi, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the three Congress chief ministers, among others, attended the meeting, the first such physical meet of the CWC since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

G-23 leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma were among those present at the meeting at the All India Congress Committee headquarters here.

In her opening remarks, interim chief Sonia Gandhi said she is a full-time and hands-on party president and there is no need for leaders to speak to her through the media.

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Her remarks came days after Kapil Sibal, one of the leaders of the group of 23 who had written to Sonia Gandhi for organisational overhaul last year, demanded that an immediate meeting of the CWC be convened and wondered who in the party was taking decisions in the absence of a full-time president.

In her opening remarks at the CWC meeting, Sonia Gandhi asserted that every member of the party wants a revival of the Congress, but that requires unity and keeping the party’s interest paramount.

Recalling that the Congress had finalised a roadmap for electing a regular Congress chief by June 30 but that deadline was extended indefinitely due to COVID second wave, Sonia Gandhi said today was the occasion for bringing clarity once and for all on the issue of the organisational polls.

The meeting of the CWC was convened after demands from some quarters to discuss important issues, including some defections in the recent past.

“I am, if you will allow me to say so, a full-time and hands-on Congress president,” Sonia Gandhi said, which is seen by many as a response to Sibal’s comments last month.

The G-23 leaders had been demanding that a CWC meeting be convened, with Sibal last month wondering who in the party was taking decisions in the absence of a full-time president. He has asserted that the G23 leaders’ grouping is “not a Jee Huzur 23”.

The Congress in its CWC meeting held on January 22 had decided it would have an elected president by June 2021. But it was deferred at the May 10 CWC meet because of the COVID-19 situation.

Also read: The ‘Core Committee’ obsession of Opposition and why it does not work

Sonia Gandhi took over as the interim Congress president in August 2019 after Rahul Gandhi resigned in the wake of the party’s Lok Sabha debacle in May 2019.

Rahul to make a comeback?

During the nearly five-hour-long meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), which is the party’s highest decision-making body, various leaders, including chief ministers Ashok Gehlot of Rajasthan, Bhupesh Baghel of Chhattisgarh and Charanjit Singh Channi of Punjab urged Rahul Gandhi to take over as the president.

Rahul Gandhi, in turn, thanked all the leaders for reposing faith in him and said he would apply his mind on their request, the sources said.

Sources said that it was Gehlot who proposed Rahul Gandhi’s name for Congress president.

BJP takes potshots at Congress

Responding to the big decisions made at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on Saturday, the BJP dubbed the whole exercise as “parivar bachao working committee”.

“It will not be wrong to say that it was less a Congress Working Committee and more a ‘parivar bachao working committee’ (save family working committee),” BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia said.

Also read: I am a ‘full-time and hands-on Congress president’, Sonia Gandhi tells CWC

Bhatia said the grand old party in spreading lies instead of offering answers to issues of internal rift and the failures of its leadership.

The BJP spokesperson said the anarchic elements are using farmers for their politics and criticized the CWC for not reacting to the ghastly murder of a Dalit man at the Singhu border, one of the sites where the farmers have been protesting.

(With inputs from agencies)

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