Rahul for Congress chief again? Clamor grows before Chintan Shivir
Ahead of the Congress's three-day 'Chintan Shivir' in Rajasthan's Udaipur from May 13, clamor for the return of Rahul Gandhi as party chief could reportedly grow. The brainstorming session—Chintan Shivir—will be held under interim chief Sonia Gandhi's leadership to discuss party's organization. The party will also formulate a strategy to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
- After the Congress's debacle in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi had quit the post of the party president and the CWC had appointed Sonia Gandhi as interim president.
- Notably, Rahul had sought someone from outside the Gandhi family be appointed as the party chief.
- Separately, a G-23 dissident group in Congress had asked for sweeping reforms in the party.
In the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting that was held on March 14, sources said that many senior leaders demanded that Rahul should take over the post of Congress chief. The most vocal voices, who want the Wayanad MP to take up the top post in the party, are Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Ashok Gehlot, Bhupesh Baghel, Randeep Surjewala, KC Venugopal, and other loyalists.
After the CWC meeting in March, it was proposed to hold the election for the party chief in August-September. However, it was decided that the ongoing process cannot be advanced, sources said. The Congress will likely hold organizational polls to elect new chief this year.
The G-23 dissident group had openly asked the party to adopt a model of "collective and inclusive leadership and decision-making at all levels [block to CWC]." After meeting Sonia on March 18, Ghulam Nabi Azad--the leader of G-23--said that her leadership has not been questioned. The G-23 group had held a third round of discussions following the party's dismal performance in assembly polls.
The majority of the G-23 accept Sonia's leadership, however, they are reportedly dissatisfied with her willingness to allow Rahul and sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to make "unilateral decisions." For instance, Rahul's decision to appoint Charanjit Singh Channi as the Congress's chief ministerial face in Punjab and Priyanka reserving 40% of tickets for women in Uttar Pradesh ahead of polls, was met with discontent.
Former union ministers, MPs, Congress office bearers, and the heads of various departments would participate in the Chintan Shivir. Among the 422 members at the session, 30-35% will be youth and 21% women. Calling the Chintan Shivir a milestone, former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh said an action plan would be prepared to deal with the political and organizational challenges.