The Congress Working Committee (CWC) will meet on Sunday to approve the schedule of dates for the election of the next party president.
This comes in the backdrop of party veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad’s shock resignation Friday.
Sources said besides giving approval to the polls schedule, the members of the CWC, the party’s highest decision-making body, could also express confidence in the leadership provided by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. This would be significant in the context of Azad’s resignation and criticism of the leadership.
Azad ended his five-decade association with the party and lashed out at Rahul Gandhi for ”demolishing its entire consultative mechanism”. The Congress, dealing with the fallout of a series of high profile exits, including that of Kapil Sibal and Ashwani Kumar, attempted to deflect the latest blow by alleging that Azad’s DNA had been ”Modi-fied” and linking his resignation to the end of his Rajya Sabha tenure.
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Ahead of the CWC meeting, to be held virtually at 3:30 PM with Sonia Gandhi presiding over it, party sources had said the process of the election of the president will be delayed by a few weeks, not more than that, and the party should have a full-time president in October.
The Congress had announced in October last year that the election of the new party president will be held between August 21 and September 20 this year.
The CWC had decided that elections for block committees and one member each of state Congress units will be held from April 16 to May 31, district committee chiefs will be elected between June 1 and July 20, state chiefs and AICC members between July 21 and August 20, and AICC president between August 21 and September 20.
Sources had also said the election of the Congress president is likely to be delayed by a few weeks with the party focused on the Kanyakumari to Kashmir ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ starting September 7 and some state units not completing formalities.
With Sonia Gandhi abroad for medical checkups and Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra accompanying her, they will join the CWC meeting virtually.
The meeting comes amid several leaders, including Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, having publicly exhorted Rahul Gandhi to return as the party chief. However, uncertainty and suspense continue on the issue.
Several party insiders say Rahul Gandhi is persisting with his stance that he will not be the AICC president.
Gehlot on Wednesday had sought to play down reports about him being the frontrunner for the Congress president’s post and said efforts will be made till the last minute to persuade Rahul Gandhi to take over the reins of the party again.
Gehlot’s remarks had come a day after he met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, triggering the buzz that the two may have discussed the possibility of him being the next party president.
Rahul Gandhi had resigned as Congress president after the party suffered its second consecutive defeat in parliamentary elections in 2019. Sonia Gandhi who took over the reins of the party again as interim president had also offered to quit in August 2020 after an open revolt by a section of leaders, referred to as G-23, but the CWC had urged her to continue.