NEW DELHI: The Congress will get a new party chief by mid-2022 as the party on Saturday rolled out a schedule for organisational elections from the block level to the president with Rahul Gandhi indicating he would be ready to lead again.
After a five-hour long Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, it was announced that the election of the new Congress president will be held between August 21 and September 20 and the AICC plenary will be held by October next year.
Sonia Gandhi took over as the interim chief in 2019 after Rahul resigned taking responsibility for the party’s debacle in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The last election to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) was held in 1997.
During the CWC meeting, several senior leaders, including chief ministers of the three Congress-ruled states, urged Rahul to become the president. Senior party leader Meira Kumar said none other than Rahul would be acceptable to party workers and it was not a "diamond crown but of thorns".
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot also said Rahul had stopped political discussions with him and he should take over and all would agree to his decisions. Rahul said he would consider but he needed to be convinced about the ideology of party leaders and what they think the Congress stood for.
Rahul referred to the appointment of Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi and how the latter started crying when he called him. Rahul said the party was ready to give voice to women, Scheduled Castes, minorities and the poor and he was ready to work for them.
He lauded sister Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra's action in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident but said the party needed to be swift in action and not take too long. With several party leaders leaving the party, Priyanka said those who want to leave could go and but those who wanted to continue needed to follow the party’s ideology, which is not negotiable.
On the Trinamool Congress' targeting of the Congress leadership, many said the party must reconsider its plan to reach out to Mamata Banerjee. On political strategist Prashant Kishor's induction in the party, the CWC members felt the need to adopt modern tools and election strategy but there was no need for Kishor.
Talk to me directly, not through media: Sonia Gandhi
In a stern message to dissenting leaders, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said that she was a "full time and hands on president" and expected her leaders would talk directly to her. "I have always appreciated frankness. There is no need to speak to me through the media. So let us all have a free and honest discussion," she asserted.
Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Bhagel meets Sonia Gandhi, discusses issues
Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Bhagel met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and discussed issues related to his state. The meeting comes when there has been ongoing power tussle in state with state minister TS Singh Deo seeking change of leadership. Amidst a pending Cabinet reshuffle, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot is also scheduled to meet the party chief.