Congress to firm up poll plan in January
A Congress panel tasked to hold organisational elections is likely to firm up the schedule for the internal polls in the first week of January, people aware of the matter said.
A member of the central election authority (CEA) said the panel was to announce the schedule by December-end but got delayed as efforts to build consensus on the presidential candidate are still on. He said Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s meeting with the party leaders, including some members of the group of 23 letter-writers, was part of that consensus-building.
“What we gather is that there is a broad consensus among the party leaders on the name now. We will meet in the first week of January and finalise the schedule,” the CEA member said on condition of anonymity.
Once that is done, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest decision-making body, will meet to clear that.
At Sonia Gandhi’s meeting with dissenters and other senior leaders at her 10, Janpath residence on December 19, there was a renewed call for Rahul Gandhi to return as the party chief.
While Rahul Gandhi said it would not be appropriate to interfere in the ongoing internal election process, the dissenters are firm that they will not accept a “proxy” candidate and insisted that polls should be held at all levels, including the CWC.
As per the Congress constitution, 12 of the 25 CWC members have to be elected by All India Congress Committee (AICC) delegates and the rest are appointed by the party president.
The CWC has not witnessed any election in over two decades now. The last time there was an election to the CWC was in 1997 during the Kolkata plenary. Prior to that, the CWC polls took place in 1992 at the Tirupati session.
The CEA member quoted above said the panel is expected to wind up the organisational polls by February-end as per the deadline to inform the Election Commission of the completion of the process.
He said that in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the CEA has decided to restrict the electoral college to AICC members only. “We will not include the co-opted members this time. So, the electoral college will have around 800 members only,” he added.
The CEA member said that the digital IDs of the AICC members are almost ready to enable the panel to hold a virtual session in case it is difficult to have the physical presence for such a convention due to Covid-19.
The five-member CEA is headed by Madhusudan Mistry and its members are Rajesh Mishra, Krishna Byre Gowda, S Jothimani and Arvinder Singh Lovely, one of the 23 signatories to a letter written to Sonia Gandhi in August this year seeking complete overhaul of the party and a full-time leadership to stem the steady decline of the 135-year-old organisation.