sonia: Rahul may take over Congress reins from Sonia next year | India News

sonia: Rahul may take over Congress reins from Sonia next year | India News

NEW DELHI: Around two and half years after he quit the party leadership over the 2019 Lok Sabha election debacle, Rahul Gandhi appears to be getting ready to retake the reins of Congress, though only around August-September 2022, ruling out dissident G-23 call for early internal polls.
The assumption of the party chief’s position is expected to potentially place Rahul Gandhi in a position to lead the party into the 2024 parliamentary elections.
For now, Sonia Gandhi will continue to be party chief. She rebuffed the dissident criticism that the party lacks a “full-time” leadership, saying she is very much “hands-on” and has taken on the government and worked with like-minded opposition parties.
“So let us all have a free and honest discussion. But what should get communicated outside the four walls of this room is the collective decision of the CWC,” Sonia told a meeting of the party’s top body on Saturday.
After a prolonged debate over organisational election, an issue that has been espoused by the dissident bloc, G-23, Congress on Saturday announced the poll schedule, which will culminate with the election of the party president by September 20, 2022. It means the new president will get elected on schedule as the five-year term of the earlier election ends then.
Congress general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal said the internal electoral process would be set in motion from November 1 this year, with enrolment of primary membership. Elections to the block, district and state level Congress committees will be held between April and September next year, which will culminate in the election of the AICC president between August 21 and September 20, 2022. The next CWC, Venugopal said, will subsequently be constituted at the Congress plenary, the date of which will be announced later.
At the CWC meeting, Rahul came under pressure from a unanimous view of the gathering that he become the party chief again. As the appeal reached a crescendo with the election schedule on the table for approval of the body, Rahul is reported to have said, “Let me think about it.”
This is the closest he has come to agreeing to retake the top job since his resignation, when he said no member of the Gandhi family should hold the position again. It was after he refused to rescind his resignation that the CWC appointed Sonia Gandhi as interim president in June 2019.
What stood out in the CWC meeting and which nudged Rahul to approve the schedule was an angry Sonia Gandhi, who slammed the G-23 claims that there was no party president — a charge levelled by Kapil Sibal at a recent press conference. While Sonia did not name anyone, her target was evident.
“I am, if you will allow me to say so, a full-time and hands-on Congress President… You are aware that I have been taking them (issues) up with the Prime Minister as have Dr Manmohan Singh and Rahul ji. I have been interacting with like-minded political parties regularly. We have issued joint statements on national issues and coordinated our strategy in Parliament as well… I have always appreciated frankness. There is no need to speak to me through the media,” she said.
Sonia came down hard on the G-23 allegations that the party was not conducting organisational elections. She said a roadmap for electing a regular president by June 30 this year was prepared, but the second wave of the pandemic sent the plans awry.
The CWC meeting was called after G-23 leader Ghulam Nabi Azad wrote to Sonia Gandhi that the meeting be called to decide organisational elections and for discussions on the state of the party, a request he had made to Sonia in another letter last year.
Interestingly, while Gandhi said she has been a full-time, hands-on president, she also gave a list of activities taken up by the party and initiatives she personally steered, including coordinating with the opposition, in the last two and a half years.
She said, “Entire organisation wants a revival of Congress. But it requires unity and keeping party’s interest is paramount. Above all it requires self-control and discipline.”
The announcement of the electoral process paves the way for settling the vexed issue that practically rendered Congress rudderless, with party leaders leaving the fold and Congress beset with repeated electoral defeats. The crisis-like situation faces further test with upcoming polls in five states in March next year. However, a sense that the party will find a leader again for future is expected to settle the nerves for insiders who have been worried about the lack of direction in the absence of a full-time president.
On Saturday, the CWC also approved the launch of a continuous and intensive training programme for its workers and leaders focusing on ideology, grassroot messaging, election managements and countering propaganda for which an orientation camp for state trainers will be held next month. Additionally, Congress said it would launch a two week-long ‘Jan Jagran Abhiyan’ between November 14 and 29 to address the issues of rising prices and inflation.

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