An embattled Congress is holding this week (rpt) this week a plenary session here at a time when its chief Sonia Gandhi is facing the biggest challenge of her political career with the issue of corruption assuming centrestage in the backdrop of a series of scams.
The plenary is the third such meet since Gandhi took over the stewardship of the party in 1998. The organisation had seen difficult days when similar issues had come to the fore in 1975 in the wake of the Navnirman Movement in Gujarat and in 1987 after the Bofors payoffs case came to light.
The three-day Plenary will begin on October 18.
Added to this is the fact that the just concluded Assembly elections in Bihar have proved to be a disaster for Congress in spite of young leader Rahul Gandhi playing a major role in campaigning, political analysts feel.
The development has given a boost to the BJP-led NDA and other opposition parties whom the Congress had convincingly humbled for the second successive time in the Lok Sabha elections of 2009 under Sonia Gandhi's leadership.
Recently, Gandhi herself had expressed concern over the growing cases of "graft and greed". The opposition got an opportunity to corner the government in the 2G spectrum allocation scam by paralysing Parliament for the entire winter session, which is being billed as the longest shutdown of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
The opposition is unlikely to change its stance despite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh lamenting over Parliament not being allowed to function.
The confrontation between the two sides is expected to grow in the coming days and months with the opposition determined to carry its campaign on the JPC demand to the Budget session.
The AICC meeting held here over a month back had evoked a controversy as neither Sonia nor Singh or Rahul had referred to the issue of corruption.
A few days after the meet, Gandhi had removed Ashok Chavan as Maharashtra Chief Minister in the wake of the Adarsh Housing scam and sacked CPP Secretary Suresh Kalmadi, who is also the Chairman of the Organising Committee of the Commonwealth Games.
The plenary is important as it will decide the strategy ahead for the party with 2011 scheduled to have elections to the assemblies of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala, Assam and West Bengal, while 2012 will see the battle of the ballot in politically-key Uttar Pradesh along with some other states including BJP-ruled Gujarat.
A section of the UPA believes that if the opposition continued on the course of confrontation on the 2G issue in the new year, the possibility of mid-term elections could not be ruled out.
However, Congress leaders like Digvijay Singh have dismissed such an eventuality.