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Congress Working Committee to meet on August 10 to elect new president

Congress leaders Anand Sharma, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ambika Soni and P. Chidambaram. File Photo.

Congress leaders Anand Sharma, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ambika Soni and P. Chidambaram. File Photo.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Congress Working Committee meeting will be held on August 10 to lay the ground work to elect the new president of the party. The meeting comes more than two months after Rahul Gandhi quit the post. 

“It has been decided to hold the next Congress Working Committee Meeting on Saturday, 10th of August, 11:00 am at AICC (All India Congress Committee),” general secretary (organisation) K. C. Venugopal said in a tweet. According to sources, a draft resolution has been prepared, thanking the outgoing president Rahul Gandhi and formally accepting his resignation. This provides a finality to Mr. Gandhi’s exit and ends the ongoing stalemate. 

The resolution also outlines the way forward for the party. 

A large section of the party has been demanding that the process of the “electing” a new party president should not be limited to the 53-member Working Committee alone. Together with 24 members, 19 permanent invitees and 10 special invitees, the CWC has 53 members. 

Provisional president

Three time Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor has openly spoken out saying that a “selected” body should not get to chose the next President of the party. He has prescribed that the CWC should be dissolved and the elections should be opened to over 10,000 Pradesh Congress Committee delegates. Only such an election, he argued will provide legitmacy for Mr. Gandhi’s successor. Earlier, former general secretary (organisation) Janardhan Diwedi too had questioned the rather “informal” process of consultations to pick Mr. Gandhi’s successor. 

For now, sources claim, only a provisional president will be selected by the CWC. “The election is an eventual reality. But for now, we can’t focus on it because there are crucial Assembly polls coming up in the next few months in Maharashtra, Haryana, Bihar and Delhi,” a top Congress leader said. 

Party in denial

Mr. Gandhi assumed the Congress president’s chair on December 16, 2017. He expressed the desire to leave the position during a CWC meeting held on May 25, just two days after the Lok Sabha election results. At the time, CWC members categorically said that there was no question of accepting Mr. Gandhi’s resignation. For over a month, the party remained in a denial. The majority of senior party leaders, from former Defence Minister A.K. Antony to chief party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala claimed that Mr. Gandhi will continue to lead. There were emotional statements from many exhorting Mr. Gandhi to continue in the position. 

Gandhis decline

On July 3, Mr. Gandhi, in an open letter to the party, which he put out on social media, asserted once again that he had no intention of continuing. Following his letter, many, including Mr. Tharoor and Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, pushed for Mr. Gandhi’s younger sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to take over. On Thursday, during a meeting of general secretaries to plan the 75th birth anniversary of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, Ms. Vadra categorically told the functionaries to rule her out of the race. 

Several names

The party’s constitution says that in absence of the president, the seniormost general secretary should assume the position. The constitution does not elaborate on how the seniority is to be fixed, whether it is the longest-serving general secretary in a continuous term, or age. There have been several names doing the rounds for the post, from Karnataka leader Mallikarjun Kharge, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to party general secretary Mukul Wasnik.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 4:05:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/congress-working-committee-to-meet-on-august-10-to-elect-new-president/article28813421.ece

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