Power Games: Party managers nervous about CWC elections

The jury is still out on whether the Congress party will hold elections to choose members of the Congress Working Committee at its Raipur plenary on February 24-26.

Published: 06th February 2023 07:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th February 2023 07:40 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

Congress Plenary
Party managers nervous about CWC elections

The jury is still out on whether the Congress party will hold elections to choose members of the Congress Working Committee at its Raipur plenary on February 24-26. There is a powerful section that does not want elections and favours nomination instead. The support received by Shashi Tharoor from across the country against official candidate Mallikarjun Kharge in Congress presidential election has made leaders occupying top party posts wary of an election. There is fear that the top party managers may lose in a free and fair election. On the other hand, if they do not contest and are sent to the CWC through the nomination route, they will lose stature and may not command the respect of party workers. This dilemma has delayed the announcement regarding the CWC election. Congress presidents have failed to get their loyalists elected in the past. In the last CWC election, held two-and-half decades back during the presidency of Sitaram Kesri in Kolkata in 1997, many of Kesri’s candidates lost badly, and his opponents, namely Ghulam Nabi Azad, Arjun Singh and Sharad Pawar, won by handsome margins. The CWC elections are when the 1400-odd members of the All India Congress Committee, who elect the CWC, are much in demand. Tales such as the all-powerful R K Dhawan personally distributing water to AICC members standing in queue to vote at the Tirupati plenary in 1992 are part of Congress folklore. Dhawan sensed the AICC members’ mood and pulled all stops to woo them. Still, he was defeated. The mood of the present members of the AICC appears no different. There is no love lost between them and the party managers. Hence the delay in the announcement of the election. But Rahul Gandhi has been categorically in favour of holding elections at all levels. The notice for holding the CWC election, which should have been issued one month before the plenary as per the constitution, is still to be sent. Rahul is back from Bharat Jodo Yatra, and a decision on the issue is likely this week.

Karnataka elections
Santhosh’s stock down as BJP fields Pradhan

The BJP’s decision to appoint Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan as election in-charge of Karnataka has dealt a blow to party general secretary B L Santhosh’s image as a powerful functionary who has the ears of both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. Santosh hails from the Udupi district of Karnataka and has worked for many years in the state. As the BJP’s general secretary (organisation), he has wielded enormous power both within Karnataka as well as in other states. However, the party’s top leadership has not been happy with how things have gone in Karnataka, where elections are due in May this year. Internal reports have indicated that the party may face defeat there without a timely change of course. Santhosh’s scheme of Mandal-level outreach has seen a low turnout, and the sidelining of former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa has not yielded the desired result. Many other moves, including the choice of Rajya Sabha candidates, are said to have proved counterproductive. The party has, therefore, decided to reboot its strategy in the poll-bound state. Sources said the Prime Minister has indicated that Yeddyurappa, instrumental in giving the BJP its first government in south India, should be given a larger role. The PM had a one-on-one meeting with the Lingayat leader when he came to Delhi for the party’s national executive meeting. Pradhan, along with another Union minister Mansukh Mandaviya, will now take the reins from Santhosh to steer the party to a position of strength before the election.

Shifting Alliances
Kushwaha to quit JD(U); may join Union ministry

Upendra Kushwaha had merged his Rashtriya Lok Samata Party with Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), hoping to emerge as the latter’s successor in the party as well as the government. But Nitish’s announcement that his deputy Tejashwi Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal will take over from him as the next chief minister when he hangs his boots has queered the pitch for Kushwaha. Sources said he might quit the JD(U) and revive his RLSP, which will fight the Lok Sabha election next year in alliance with the BJP. Kushwaha may also make a comeback into the Modi ministry, which he had quit to join hands with Nitish. 


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