Ahead of plenary session, doubts emerge over Congress Working Committee elections

While several leaders are in favor of conducting the CWC polls, they are apprehensive about the top brass moving in that direction.

Published: 22nd February 2023 08:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd February 2023 08:01 AM   |  A+A-

Congress flag. (File photo)

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Express News Service

NEW DELHI: A day after Congress veteran P Chidambaram spoke about the need for holding elections to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and resolving the existing issues about the electoral college, a section of senior Congress leaders also raised concerns over ‘free and fair election to the Working Committee if the party decide to hold polls during the plenary session. 

The 3-day plenary session of Congress is scheduled to take place from February 24-26 in Raipur, Chhattisgarh. Echoing Chidambaram’s view, several senior Congress leaders said that even if the party decides to conduct an election to the Working committee, it will be a compromised one as the AICC members are nominated by the High Command. The AICC members form the electoral college, which elects the 12 members to the CWC, the top decision-making body of the party.

Chidambaram was one of the first to come out urging the party to hold  CWC elections, urging the party to induct young members in the CWC. He had also urged that the issues about the strength of the electoral college that will elect the CWC must be resolved by the election commission of the party. Elections to the CWC have not taken place since 1997.

The outgoing Steering Committee of the party will decide on February 24 whether there will be elections for the CWC this time. According to the constitution of the party, the working committee shall consist of the president of the Congress, the Leader of the Congress Party in Parliament, and 23 other members of whom 12 members will be elected by the AICC, and the rest shall be appointed by the president. The party had said that 1,338 elected AICC delegates will participate in the plenary session. 

Only elected AICC delegates can vote in the CWC election, if it takes place, according to the Constitution of the party. The party was in a spot after it released a list of AICC delegates from Delhi, including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Jagdish Tytler, whose name figured in a probe panel report on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

However, a senior leader points out that even if the party holds a CWC election, it will be violating the party Constitution as the AICC members are not elected according to the party’s constitution. “None of AICC members are elected by the High command as per the Constitution. Each one of the AICC delegates has been vetted by the top leadership. It’s not a democratic process. It’s a farce just like Congress chief elections,” he said, on condition of anonymity.

In September last year, the AICC Central Election Committee headed by Madhusudan Mistry had asked all PCC delegates to pass resolutions authorizing the Congress Chief to nominate PCC chiefs and AICC delegates. “It will be a name-sake election just like the way they conducted Congress President election,” said another leader who was part of the now non-existent G-23 group which fought for reforms. 

While several leaders who spoke to this newspaper are in favor of conducting the CWC polls, they are apprehensive about the top brass moving in that direction. Another senior MP says that if the elections are held, it will definitely spring some surprises.

“The coterie in the Congress won’t let it happen. They know that stronger leaders will emerge to challenge the leadership. We have seen what happened in 1992 and 1997 after the CWC polls,” said the leader. In 1992, then Congress President P V Narasimha Rao made the entire CWC resign after the elections and reconstituted the committee. “Rao made them resign as he didn’t want his political rivals who emerged as winners in the elections,” said the leader.


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