Congress to elect party president in June 'at any cost', says KC Venugopal after crucial CWC meeting

The CWC also passed three resolutions demanding a repeal of the three farm laws, a JPC probe into the Arnab Goswami WhatsApp chats and a free time-bound COVID-19 vaccination for the poor and oppressed sections of the society

FP Staff January 22, 2021 18:58:22 IST
Congress to elect party president in June 'at any cost', says KC Venugopal after crucial CWC meeting

File image of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party leader Rahul Gandhi.

The Indian National Congress will elect a new president by June 2021 "at any cost", the party said on Friday with its working committee approving holding the internal election after the state Assembly polls.

The committee after a three and a half-hour meeting authorised interim party chief Sonia Gandhi to schedule the internal election after the conclusion of assembly polls in five states, PTI said.

The CWC passed three resolutions demanding a repeal of the three agriculture laws, a time-bound JPC probe into the alleged violations of national security and Official Secrets Act and another to ensure that the government ensures free time-bound COVID-19 vaccination for the poor and oppressed sections.

Addressing a joint press conference, Congress leaders KC Venugopal and Randeep Surjewala said elections to the CWC will also be held but it remains to be seen whether they can be scheduled before or after the election to the Congress chief's post.

According to PTI sourced told the news agency that the Central Election Authority had proposed the holding of polls for electing the party president and AICC session on 29 May, however, authorised Sonia Gandhi to schedule them after the Assembly polls.

"The CWC decided that there will be an elected Congress President by June 2021 at any cost," AICC general secretary KC Venugopal said.

He said the little change of schedule depending on the state elections will be decided soon.

"The CWC discussed the schedule of Congress president's elections in May-end, proposed by its election authority. All CWC members unanimously requested Congress president that the internal elections should not interfere with the assembly elections."

He said the Congress president was requested unanimously to reschedule AICC Plenary Session to the end of June 2021 and the Congress chief's election would be concluded by June 2021.

"We will conduct elections as per the Constitution of the party. We need a change of schedule due to assembly polls as counting would be underway in May," he said.

Arguments ensue over orgnisational polls

According to an NDTV report, the election date was changed to after the Assembly polls following an argument between two groups in the party.

One group, which included the 23 senior Congress leaders who had written to Sonia Gandhi demanding organisational overhaul, wanted early internal polls whereas the other group included Rahul Gandhi loyalists who wanted the internal polls after the state elections, the report said.

According to PTI, there were reports about Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot hitting out at those demanding internal elections, saying the leaders should leave this to the party chief and focus on how to fight the Narendra Modi-led BJP.

Anand Sharma objected to the tone of his remarks, dubbing it "disrespectful", the sources told PTI.

However, when asked about any dissenting notes on the holding of elections, Surjewala said, "There was no dissent at the meeting."

He added that leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, or P Chidambaram were not dissenters but senior members of the Congress party and were all unanimous in deciding to extend the election schedule a little.

"There was no argument in the election schedule issue. The meeting was very fruitful. There is no dispute over conducting organisational election," Venugopal said.

He said a little clarity was needed on whether the CWC election can be held before or after the Congress president's election.

"We have to go to the constitution to look at that. The practice is to hold Congress president's election first and then the CWC election," he said.

Congress passes three resolutions

The virtual meeting chaired by party chief Sonia Gandhi started with her address. After the address, Sonia asked Venugopal to read out the Organisational Election Schedule sent by the chairperson of the Central Election Authority.

The CEC chaired by Madhusudan Mistry has proposed that the AICC Session and the party president's election be held on 29 May, with the process of nomination filing starting in the month of May itself.

The party's top leadership also discussed the current political situation in the wake of the farmers' agitation and the party's strategy ahead of the Budget Session of Parliament on various issues, including the leaked WhatsApp chats of Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami.

Sonia took over as the interim Congress president in August 2019 after Rahul Gandhi resigned in the wake of the party's Lok Sabha debacle in May 2019.

With inputs from PTI

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