LUCKNOW: Two months after Rahul Gandhi resigned as Congress president, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) is yet to reach a decision on a consensus candidate, and there is a growing demand in the party for holding elections to the top post. The last such election was held in 2000. Some senior Congress leaders, MPs and members of state units are in favour of a democratic process to elect the next party president. Veteran Congress leader Dr Karan Singh says the party should not wait for a consensus candidate and instead convene the CWC and build consensus by-elections.
“There are very senior people in the CWC. Let’s have a meeting, and if there is no consensus, then let’s have elections and elect a new president. It doesn’t have to be by voting, but just show of hands,” said Singh, who recently issued a statement expressing concern over the state of the party after Rahul’s resignation.
The octogenarian feels that the All India Congress Committee (AICC)members should choose the CWC. “Not many of the CWC members are MPs any longer. The AICC is supposed to elect the CWC. I remember there used to be fierce elections for AICC during the times of Chandra Shekhar and Morarji Desai. There used to be massive campaigning and lobbying,” he said. A few Congress MPs also feel that the party should hold elections to the post of party president.
“There has never been a situation like this before. If the CWC has not been able to take a decision, let the party’s national electoral college elect one,” said a party MP. According to party sources, the CWC may meet after the Parliament session ends by August 7. The AICC members’ compilation by the party in 2017 shows there are 1,200 members with voting rights.
In the recent past, elections to the top party post have been held twice —in 1997, when Sitaram Kesri, the party’s Dalit leader, was elected, and in 2000, when Jitendra Prasada lost to Sonia Gandhi. However, senior party leader Motilal Vora favours a consensus candidate for the top post, as this has been the convention.
Former president Pranab Mukherjee, in his book, The Coalition Years, wrote that certain offices should not be sought, but offered. “I consider the Congress presidency to be one such office,” he said.
A senior Congress leader, who has held top party posts for years, said that previous experiments with elected presidents had not gone well