Sonia Gandhi to continue as interim Congress president; new chief to be elected within six months
This comes after high drama unfolded in New Delhi at the CWC party meet after Sonia Gandhi told Congress leaders that she will quit as the chief amid divisions in the party over leadership issue.
The much hyped dissent by senior leaders turned out to be whimper on Monday with the Congress Working Committee requesting Sonia Gandhi to continue leading the party until a new leader is elected.
“The CWC makes it clear that no one will be or can be permitted to undermine or weaken the party and its leadership at this juncture,” said the CWC resolution, sending strong message to dissenters.
The seven-hour CWC meeting saw the veterans who wrote to Sonia seeking “collective leadership” being cornered with a majority of the members condemning their move and some demanding action against them for indiscipline.
According to sources, Rahul Gandhi was unsparing in his speech and said the move by these leaders will benefit only the BJP. Upset by the insinuation, senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad threatened to quit from all party posts.
Congress general-secretary Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra, then, took a jibe at Azad that what he said in the meeting was contrary to the letter’s content.
Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal, too, expressed his anguish but later clarified he “was informed by Rahul Gandhi personally that he never said what was attributed to him”.
After the CWC meeting, a few veteran leaders met at Azad’s residence to discuss the future course of action.
Sonia Gandhi to remain Congress party's interim president for now, new chief to be elected within next 6 months. Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting has concluded after 7 hours: Sources— ANI (@ANI) August 24, 2020
The meeting started with the party’s organisations incharge K C Venugopal reading out Sonia’s statement asking CWC “to begin deliberations to put in place a process of transition to relieve me from my duties”.
This made her two confidantes former PM Manmohan Singh and A K Antony requesting her to continue lead the party while calling the letter by his party colleagues as “unfortunate and cruel”.
A majority of the CWC members lend weight behind the Gandhis and said Sonia should continue to lead the party till Rahul takes over the reins.
Congress-ruled CMs, senior leader Ahmed Patel and other CWC members were unanimous that only a Gandhi can keep the party together. However, sources said Rahul is still reluctant to take the hot seat.
An AICC session is likely to be called within six months to elect the next leader.
Four of the letter signatories, who are part of the CWC, clarified that the letter was to bring focus on organisation restricting and settling leadership issues and never questioned Sonia’s leadership.
Azad and Anand Sharma said they have not breached party discipline while Ambika Soni sought action against the dissenters as per the party constitution.
In her concluding remarks, Sonia said she was hurt by the remarks in the letter but doesn’t hold any ill will against party colleagues.
Don’t discuss party issues through media: CWC resolution
The Congress Working Committee (CWC) takes note of the letter of Congress President Sonia Gandhi addressed to General Secretary (Organisation) as also a letter written earlier by certain Congress leaders to the Congress President.
The CWC has extensively deliberated on the letters and, after detailed discussion, places on record the following:
First, the last six months have seen the nation in the throes of multiple crises. We have been beset by (i) the Corona pandemic that continues to claim thousands of lives, (ii) downward-spiralling economy, (iii) massive job losses and growing poverty, and (iv) brazen aggression into and occupation of Indian Territory by the Chinese.
Second, the two voices that have been at the forefront of exposing the Government’s inadequate responses, divisive politics and audacious propaganda are of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Sonia Gandhi’s hard questions on the handling of the migrants’ crisis put this Government to shame. She ensured that Congress- ruled states tackled the pandemic effectively and provided access to healthcare and treatment to all sections of the people. Her leadership has rankled and embarrassed those occupying the highest offices in this government. Rahul Gandhi has resolutely led the fight against the government from the front.
The CWC, reflecting the overwhelming view and desire of the rank and file of the Congress, unanimously resolved to strengthen the hands of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in every possible way.
The CWC makes it clear that no one will be or can be permitted to undermine or weaken the party and its leadership at this juncture. The responsibility of every Congress worker and leader today is to fight the pernicious assault on India’s democracy, pluralism and diversi ty by the Modi Government.
Third, and most importantly, the voices of our two leaders have inspired a generation of Indians, both within and outside of the Indian National Congress, to rise and demand answers from this Government which seeks to desperately distract the people through shallow and manufactured issues.
It is under their leadership that crores of Congress workers and supporters have reached out to fill the large, callous gaps in governance left by this Government as a result of which millions belonging to the poor and middle classes have been unjustly deprived of their rights and their livelihoods.
Fourthly, the CWC notes that inner-party issues can’t be deliberated through the media or in public fora. The CWC urges and advises all concerned to raise such issues only in party fora in the interest of propriety and discipline.
Fifthly, the CWC authorises the Congress President to affect necessary organisational changes that she may deem appropriate to take on the challenges listed above. In the light of the above deliberations and conclusions, the CWC unanimously requests Sonia Gandhi to continue to lead the Indian National Congress until such time as circumstances will permit an AICC session to be convened.
‘Don’t weaken leadership’
CWC said nobody will be allowed to undermine Cong leadership. “The responsibility of every Congress worker and leader is to fight the pernicious assault on India’s democracy, pluralism and diversity by the Modi govt,” it said