Congress to have 'elected' president by June 2021; passes resolution supporting farmers

Malini T

The Congress party has again postponed internal elections by five months and Sonia Gandhi will continue to be the interim party president till then.

The Congress Working Committee decided that there will be a new elected party president by June 2021, Congress leader KC Venugopal said at a press briefing soon after the CWC meeting.

The CWC also passed three resolutions:

1. In support of protesting farmers and calling for the repeal of the three contentious farm laws;

2. Thanking scientists and researchers for developing COVID-19 vaccines in record time; and

3. On the Arnab Goswami WhatsApp chats leak row, demanding a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee into 'breach of national security'.

The Congress Central Election Authority had earlier proposed the holding of polls to elect the party president and AICC session on May 29 and the working committee is likely to finalise the same at its meeting, sources said.

The current Congress leadership has been under pressure from the ‘group of 23 leaders’, who had written to Sonia Gandhi asking that elections to the CWC be held as soon as possible and to revive the party which is going through its worst time electorally.

Insiders believe that the sudden increase of aggression in Rahul Gandhi’s stance after his return from his holiday shows that the party might again root for him to be the Congress president. Several senior Congress leaders see this as a retrograde step as Rahul has been ineffective in helping take the party to the next level.

At a press conference earlier this week, Rahul projected himself as the alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, stating: “I have a character. I am not scared of Narendra Modi or any of these people. I don’t care. I am a clean person. They cannot touch me. Haan goli se maar sakte hain… magar chhu nahin sakte. And I am a patriot. I strive to protect my country. And I will continue to do that. Even if I am alone and the entire country is on the other side… I will stand alone… I am more fanatic than them,” he said, as reported by The Indian Express.

After her address, Gandhi asked AICC General Secretary Organisation K C Venugopal to read out the Organisational Election Schedule sent by Chairperson of the Central Election Authority.

The CEC chaired by Madhusudan Mistry has proposed that the AICC Session and the party president's election be held on May 29, the sources told PTI.

Members of the CWC will finalise the schedule for organisational elections and the AICC plenary session.

The party's top leadership also discussed the current political situation in the wake of the farmers' agitation and the party's strategy ahead of the Budget session of Parliament on issues including the WhatsApp chat leaks of Arnab Goswami.

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

There have been demands from a section of the Congress leaders for having a full-time and active party president and an organisational overhaul.

The CWC had in its earlier meeting decided to hold organisational elections, following a storm in the party in August last year over a letter to Sonia Gandhi by a group of 23 leaders including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Bhupinder Hooda, Prithviraj Chavan, Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari and Mukul Wasnik raising these issues.

Sonia Gandhi had last month met some of these 'letter-writers' and discussed the issues raised by them.

Sonia launches a scathing attack on Modi govt

Earlier, in the day, Congress president Sonia Gandhi launched a fierce attack on the Centre over the farmers' agitation and said the government has shown 'shocking insensitivity and arrogance going through the charade of consultations'.

Addressing a crucial meeting of the Congress Working Committee, she alleged that it was now abundantly clear that the three farm laws were prepared in haste and Parliament was consciously denied an opportunity to examine in any meaningful detail their implications and impacts.

'The agitation of farmers continues and the government has shown shocking insensitivity and arrogance going through the charade of consultations,' she said.

The crucial meeting, being held virtually, will also finalise the plan for organisational elections, including that of the next Congress president.

Gandhi said the Congress position on the issue of the farm laws has been clear from the very beginning. 'We reject them categorically because they will destroy the foundations of food security that are based on the three pillars of MSP, public procurement and PDS.' Discussing the budget session of Parliament, she said there are many pressing issues of public concern that need to be debated and discussed, but it remains to be seen whether the government will agree to a discussion. On the purported WhatsApp chat leaks of Arnab Goswami, she said, 'There have been very disturbing reports on how national security has been so thoroughly compromised.' 'The silence from the government's side on what has been revealed has been deafening. Those who give certificates of patriotism and nationalism to others now stand totally exposed,' she said.

Gandhi expressed the hope that the process of the COVID-19 vaccination drive will continue and be completed to the fullest extent.

The government, she added, has inflicted untold suffering on the people of the country by the manner in which it has managed the COVID-19 pandemic. 'It will take years for the scars to heal,' she alleged.

The economic situation remains grim and large parts of the economy like MSME and the informal sector have been decimated with the government refusing to extend a lifeline, the Congress president said. 'When public expenditure has to be carefully prioritized, it is very painful to find huge amounts of money being allocated and spent on initiatives that can only be described as 'personal vanity projects',' she said. 'Panic privatization has gripped the government and this is something that the Congress party can never accept and support,' Gandhi added. The Congress chief also asked the party office bearers to list the schedule and modalities for organizational elections that has to get the CWC's approval. PTI SKC “We bring the World to you' Disclaimer : This e-mail message may contain proprietary, confidential or legally privileged information for the sole use of the person or entity to whom this message was originally addressed. Please delete this e-mail, if it is not meant for you. Inputs: ANI, PTI, Agencies