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Kerala News
Congress Working Committee to meet on Sunday to discuss poll debacle; Party refutes claims of Gandhis resigning
 
New Delhi: The Congress Working Committee will meet on Sunday to discuss the outcome of the assembly elections, even as the opposition party reeling from the latest electoral debacle refuted reports that the Gandhi family members will resign from all organisational posts.

Sources said Congress president Sonia Gandhi will chair the meeting of the party’s top decision-making body at its headquarters here at 4 PM on Sunday.

The Congress lost Punjab to the AAP and could not wrest any of the four other states – Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur – from the BJP.

While Sonia Gandhi has not been actively campaigning for some time, Rahul Gandhi has been the star campaigner for the Congress besides Priyanka Gandhi, with the brother-sister duo also playing a major role in key decisions of the party.

Despite a high-pitched campaign led by AICC general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the Congress could manage to win only two of the 403 assembly seats with the vote share plummeting to a meagre 2.33 percent and most of its candidates losing security deposits.

Rahul Gandhi had resigned as Congress president after the party suffered its second consecutive defeat in general elections in 2019. Sonia Gandhi who took over the reins of the party again as interim president had also offered to quit in August 2020 after an open revolt by a section of leaders, referred to as G-23, but the CWC had urged her to continue.

Sunday’s CWC meeting is likely to see some fireworks as the G-23 dissident leaders, who have questioned the leadership and pressed for organisation overhaul, have indicated that these issues will be raised again.

However, party spokesman Randeep Surjewala on Sunday dismissed as “wrong and mischievous” reports claiming that the Gandhi family members will resign from all party positions, thus ruling out any major tectonic shift in the party.

The reports of alleged resignations are unfair, mischievous and incorrect, he said on Twitter.

“It is unfair for a TV channel to carry such unsubstantiated propaganda stories emanating from imaginary sources at the instance of ruling BJP,” Surjewala said.

Congress whip in Lok Sabha Manickam Tagore said, “All those rumourmongers will have egg on their faces tomorrow.” Party president Sonia Gandhi has, meanwhile, convened a meeting of the party’s parliamentary strategy group at her residence on Sunday morning to discuss plans for the remainder of the budget session.

The second part of the budget session starts on Monday after a recess.

Gandhi is also the chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary The G-23 leaders had suggested corrective measures after the previous round of assembly polls, when the Congress lost Puducherry and failed to make a mark in Kerala, Assam and West Bengal, but there had been little movement on that front.

These leaders had met on Friday evening at the residence of senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad to evolve their strategy ahead of the crucial CWC meeting.

They expressed shock at the party’s defeat, the sources said, adding the leaders discussed the way forward and steps for the revival of the Congress which has become even “more marginalised, weakened and isolated”.

Azad and senior leader Anand Sharma are the two leaders of the group who are part of the CWC. Mukul Wasnik, also a member of the CWC, had initially signed a letter from the group to Gandhi but has since kept his distance.

The leaders also expressed dismay at the Congress leadership not taking any corrective steps to revive the party, the sources said.

Some leaders were concerned that the report of the committee formed to evaluate the party’s losses in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala and Puducherry was not even discussed.

In a telephonic interview with PTI, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury conceded the Congress lost due to organisational weakness but said there was no need for a change in the party leadership.

“There is an organisational weakness in our party and that is the reason we have lost,” Chowdhury told PTI.

He said party leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have been doing their best.

“Who will be the next leader? If a change in leadership is meant to remove Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Gandhi, then one has to ask who will replace them. Both Rahul and Priyanka have been trying wholeheartedly, there is no doubt about their effort,” he said.

Following the poll debacle, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who is among the G-23 leaders, on Thursday said it is clear that change is unavoidable.

The Congress’ organisational elections are already underway and the party will get a new president between August 21 and September 20.

Thereafter, elections to the CWC will be held by October at the All India Congress Committee Plenary session.

The party launched an enrolment drive for members on November 1 and it will continue till March 22.

Thereafter, the District Congress Committees will publish the list of members and the eligible candidates for various party bodies between April 1 and April 15, followed by the election of the president and executive committees at the block level.

This process would be completed between April 16 and May 31.

The elections at the Congress District Committee level for deciding local presidents, vice presidents and treasurers will take place between June 1 and July 20. The PCCs will face elections between July 21 and August 22.

Senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi called for “reconfiguration” throughout the party to achieve results in future elections, though he did not call for a change at the top.

“It always comes back to leadership. They have never hesitated to face the bullet, nor have they ever escaped. They are ready to own up to everything. We do need reconfiguration from the bottom of the party,” he said.

“I am confident of finishing the (intra-party) elections in August. If someone out of the existing leadership or related thereto is re-elected by a clear majority, then on what democratic basis will you negate them? So this intra-party election is needed.

”We must have this election and thereafter that top-level thing has to settle down irrespective of who is there on the top,” he said.

Taking to Twitter on Saturday, Congress leader Pawan Khera urged party members not to get disheartened by the assembly poll results and continue the fight with the same vigour and zeal.

“Do the roots of a tree surrender to Autumn?” he asked.

Noted historian and political analyst Ramchandra Guha has said that Gandhis must “retire from politics” immediately for the good of the party and democracy in the country as they are unable to revive the Congress.


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