With the Congress Working Committee (CWC) paving the way for transition of power in the grand old party, modalities are being worked out to anoint Rahul Gandhi to the top post.
The timing will be decided by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul, who currently holds the position of vice-president. The CWC will convey to the Congress president its “unanimous and strong sentiments” for Rahul’s immediate elevation and seek her approval.
Sonia, 69, holds the record of being the president of the 130-year-old party for 18 consecutive years after taking over from Sitaram Kesri in 1998.
Once Sonia gives her approval, the CWC will again be called to formally hand over the reins of the party to her 46-year-old son. The move then has to be ratified by the All India Congress Committee (AICC) at a session within six months, according to the party constitution.
But the entire process could also happen in one day, with the CWC passing a resolution in the morning and the AICC ratifying the move soon after.|
In Sonia’s case, the formalities were completed in less than a month. The CWC appointed her the party chief through a unanimous resolution on March 14, 1998, and the AICC ratified the move on April 6, 1998.
During the past 18 years, Sonia had to contest only once. In a one-sided fight on November 9, 2000, she defeated Jitendra Prasada, a former Congress vice-president who had been a political advisor to former prime ministers Rajiv Gandhi and PV Narasimha Rao, by a huge margin.
Currently, the tenure of the Congress president is five years but the CWC, in its meeting on September 8 last year, decided to reduce the period to three years. The amendment will be placed before the AICC for approval.
Congress sources said the leadership, while deciding about the timing of Rahul’s anointment, is likely to keep in mind the upcoming assembly elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
A senior party functionary was of the view that the much-awaited organisational reshuffle, including the re-constitution of the CWC, could take place soon.
“Rahul would first like to have his own team in place and then take over,” the leader said.
The last elections to the CWC were held in 1997 when Kesri was the party chief. Since then, all appointments in the party have been made through nominations. Prior to that, organisational elections were held during Narasimha Rao’s tenure in 1992 after a gap of about two decades.
According to the Congress constitution, 12 of the 25-member CWC have to be elected by AICC members, while others are appointed by the party president.
Sonia has often listed difficulties she has faced in constituting the CWC. “Nominating CWC is not an easy task. Somebody will complain that he has been left out and why the other was taken. Somewhere someone will be left out,” she had said at the AICC session in Delhi’s Talkatora stadium on November 2, 2010.