The story so far: Demands for a complete overhaul of the central leadership bears the potential to attain centrality in the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meet on Sunday. The political party has met to discuss the causes of poor showing in the recently-concluded Assembly election in Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand, Manipur, and Uttar Pradesh. The meeting was attended by the extended CWC, which has 68 members including the in-charges of the five States.
The Hindu learnt that members held apprehensions about the utility of such meetings when the party is yet to take cognisance of the Ashok Chavan committee report which analysed the reasons for its performance in Kerala and West Bengal the previous year.
What is the CWC?
The CWC is the highest executive authority of the party and carries out all activities, policies and programmes of the party and the All-India Congress Committee (AICC), to whom it reports.
It consists of the overall Congress president, the party’s Leader in Parliament and 23 other members, of whom 12 or more are elected by the AICC. The rest are appointed by the party president. According to Congress Constitution, ordinarily members of the committee are to be appointed from amongst the members of the AICC. However, in some cases, a non-member of the AICC may be appointed provided he or she is elected as an AICC member within six months of the appointment at CWC.
CWC has the power to frame rules for the proper working of the organisation and give instructions in all matters related to administration, as well as superintend, direct and control all the party’s State units (Pradesh Congress Committee or PCC) and other subordinate committees. This includes initiating disciplinary action.
The quorum for convening a CWC meeting is eight.
What is the AICC?
The AICC has the power to frame rules to regularise all matters connected with the party. Its discretion is binding on all other committees. The overall president of the party spearheads the functioning of this committee. The purpose of the committee is to arrange for the implementation of the activities and programmes of the party and deal with issues and situations that may arise during its term at the office.
The term of every Congress committee and of its office bearers, executive committee and members is five years.
The party’s constitution states the committee is required to meet at least once a year, or on a joint requisition addressed to the Working Committee by not less than 20% of AICC members having full voting rights. The requisitionists are expected to specify the purpose for the requested meeting, which is to held within two months of receiving the request, provided not more than one requisition can be moved in a year.
All AICC meetings, other than those requisitioned, are expected to allot 2 hours for considering the propositions put forth by the AICC members. A notice is to be sent to the CWC in advance.
One hundred or one-fifth of the total number of members, whichever is less, forms the quorum for an AICC meeting.
Who all can be members of the AICC?
The AICC consists of the overall president, former party presidents who have completed a one-year term and are active in party affairs, PCC presidents, leaders of the party in Parliament, leader of the party in State Legislatures and Legislative Assemblies in Union Territories and Metropolitan Councils, alongside 15 members in Parliament and members co-opted by the CWC from ‘special categories of persons not adequately represented’.
Further, the AICC would have one-eighth of the number of PCC members elected internally adhering to proportional representation, provided that the number is not less than five. Additionally, four members each are to be elected from Chandigarh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu and Lakshadweep.
At present, Sonia Gandhi is the president of the AICC. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Tariq Anwar, Oommen Chandy, Avinash Pandey, former MPs Mukul Wasnik, K.C. Venugopal, Jitendra Singh and Ajay Maken along with sitting Rajya Sabha MP K.C. Venugopal and communications in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala are its general secretaries.
How is the party president elected?
The party’s Central Election Authority is the ex-officio Returning Officer for the party’s presidential election. According to the party constitution, any ten delegates may jointly propose the name of a delegate for election as the next president to the Returning Officer within the date stipulated the CWC. Candidates are given 7 days to withdraw their nominations after the Returning Officer has officially published the proposed names.
Following the withdrawal, the remaining names are sent to state units. In the event of only one name remaining after the elimination, s/he is declared the President.
In the other scenario, CWC on a particularly date, not less than seven days after the final publication of candidates list, conducts ballot elections. Voters are to record two names in the order of preference should there be more than two competitors. The State units would then forward the ballot box to the AICC.
The candidate securing more than 50% of votes as the first preference is declared winner.
In the event of death or resignation of the incumbent president, the senior-most general secretary assumes the functions of the president. The appointment stands until the CWC elects a provisional president to serve pending the appointment of a regular president.