NEW DELHI:No change of guard in the Congress as yet. Citing technical reasons, the party’s working committee on Tuesday decided to communicate to the Election Commission that incumbent party chief — Sonia Gandhi — has been given a year’s extension, ostensibly to complete the process of organisational polls.
One of the longest serving chiefs of the Congress, Sonia’s tenure was scheduled to end on December 31, necessitating an election or an inner-party resolution that allowed her to continue to helm the party. This, as reported earlier by Express, was achieved at the CWC meeting on Tuesday.
With this, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s much-awaited elevation as the next Congress president has been delayed. The CWC, however, praised his agitation for the farmers on the land acquisition ordinance. It was projected as the cause behind the government’s decision to withdraw it. The technicalities, which were cited to extend Sonia Gandhi’s tenure, pertained to two specific amendments that were adopted by the CWC. The amendments are primarily aimed at revitalising the party’s base, which has been on a steep decline in many states, making it appear like a shadow of its past self. The first amendment has to do with reviving the old system of having both ‘active’ and ‘ordinary’ memberships. Only an active member, who has a minimum of 25 members to his credit, can qualify to hold a post in the party — that is become a Congress office-bearer even at the block level.
Secondly, the CWC decided to revert to the three-year term of party’s office-bearers instead of the present five-year term. Earlier, the term period of the party office-bearers coincided with the tenure of elected members. However, Rahul was of the opinion that a distinction has to be made between those who would want to pursue or switch to electoral politics and those who would dedicate themselves to party work.
The CWC also adopted several resolutions, including one offering conditional support to the GST bill. All the other resolutions, ranging from foreign and economic policies to farmers’ suicides blamed the government.
The decision to maintain the leadership status quo was taken by the Gandhi family in consultation with senior leaders. “It was felt that the Congress at this juncture needs a mix of experience and youth — at different levels. We’ll have to pursue agitation politics, for which young blood is needed, but some guidance is also required. There’s no doubt, these are difficult times and the party can ill-afford to go for change of guard which would in effect bring about a new order,” a top Congress leader said.
However, Rahul will continue to be projected as the de facto leader and will be key in decision-making process. The end of the uncertainty also saw Sonia Gandhi coming out all guns blazing, charging the government with indecision and unkept poll promises.