CWC clears decks and dates for Rahul Gandhi's road ahead: Will be Congress chief in Dec, PM face in 2019

The Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Monday met in New Delhi to charter roadmap for party vice-president Rahul Gandhi's elevation as the party president ahead of the Gujarat Assembly election scheduled in December this year. Internal voting to chose the new Congress president will be held on 16 December, party leaders told media after concluding the CWC meeting.

 CWC clears decks and dates for Rahul Gandhis road ahead: Will be Congress chief in Dec, PM face in 2019

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi with party vice-president Rahul Gandhi at the party working committee meeting in New Delhi on Monday. AP

The 47-year-old Rahul is expected to take over the reins in the first week of December, ahead of Gujarat Assembly elections starting 9 December, the sources said. The all-important meeting of the CWC, the highest decision making body of the Congress, approved the schedule.

Here is the schedule of Congress' organisational election

The election will be notified on 1 December, and the last date  for filing nominations is 4 December.

The nominations will be scrutinised on 5 December, and last date for withdrawing nominations is 11 December.

The polling, if necessary, will take place on 16 December while the counting of votes will be 19 December.

The party's organisational election has to be completed before 31 December. The Election Commission has given the party the last extension for completing the internal poll process by the end of 2017. Rahul, when elected, will be the ninth Congress president. Sonia has been the longest-serving party president, she was appointed in 1998.

Congress Presidents

The meeting was chaired by Sonia and attended by top party leaders, including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, and party general secretaries. Rahul is expected to be the only candidate in the fray, the sources said.

The party's organisational election has to be completed before 31 December. The Election Commission has given the party the last extension for completing the internal poll process by the end of this year.

Decks clear for the elevation of  Rahul Gandhi

The CWC meeting was held at Sonia's official residence at 10 Janpath and the committee passed a resolution to make Rahul the party chief after due internal election.

According to News185 December, the last date of withdrawing nomination papers from the internal elections of the Congress Working Committee will be a crucial day as it would become clear only on this day that if anyone else is contesting Rahul Gandhi's nomination for the party chief's post.

Sonia Gandhi's opening speech at the CWC: Party chief slams Modi

Informing the attendees at CWC about the party's agenda Sonia Gandhi said that Congress's roots are spread across every district of the country and that no other political party can match the plurality and diversity of the Congress party.

Slamming Narendra Modi-led government, the Congress president said that the "Centre in its arrogance has cast a dark shadow on India's parliamentary democracy by sabotaging the Winter Session of Parliament on flimsy grounds."

"The government is mistaken if it thinks that by locking the temple of democracy, it will escape constitutional accountability ahead of the Assembly elections. Parliament is the forum in which questions should be asked — questions about corruption in high places, conflict of interest of serving ministers and dubious defence deals, Sonia said.

Sonia's role post the announcement of Rahul Gandhi as Congress president is, however, not clear yet. According to The Financial Express report, the CWC is likely to decide on Sonia's role in another meeting later. The report added that Sonia would be a figurehead and could continue as chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala on the question whether Sonia will continue to have a say in the party said, "Her guidance and leadership will always be available to Rahul and Congress workers."

Challenges ahead of Rahul as Congress president

When asked whether Rahul will be Congress' prime ministerial candidate for the 2019 elections, party leader RPN Singh said, "There's no doubt about it".

According to this India Today report, Rahul has emerged as a supreme leader by making important appointments in the Congress's organisational set up. Sonia has, reportedly, not presided over the meetings of any Congress body in the last four months. The report added that all the election related decisions since Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections were taken by Rahul.

Creating new leader within the party, giving a new narrative to the grand old party and getting rid of burden of legacy are some of challenges that lie ahead of Rahul, according to The Economic Times.

"Rahul must find ways to tackle his uneasy legacy. If he wants to appear a change agent, as he tries to sound in his public speeches, he must act like one and bury his past, " said The Economic Times report.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Nov 20, 2017 16:27:25 IST