New Congress chief to be appointed by September 2022
Elections to appoint the new Congress party president will be held by September 2022, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) decided in a meting today, NDTV reported citing sources. Sonia Gandhi has been serving as the grand old party's interim chief since her son Rahul Gandhi's resignation after the general elections in 2019. Here are more updates from the key meet.
'I am full-time Congress President,' Sonia Gandhi says
Sonia Gandhi underlined her position as a "full-time and hands-on Congress President," apparently attacking critics within the party. It marked the first in-person meeting of the CWC since the COVID-19 outbreak began last year. The Congress had earlier decided to appoint a new chief by June this year but that was delayed in view of India's deadly second wave of the pandemic.
No need to speak to me through the media: Gandhi
"I am, if you will allow me to say so, a full-time and hands-on Congress President," Gandhi said in the crucial meet. She added she has "always appreciated frankness" and there is "no need to speak to me through the media." "But what should get communicated outside the four walls of this room is the collective decision of the CWC."
Upcoming Assembly elections also on agenda
The Congress will also likely plan for the upcoming Assembly elections in several states that are due just a few months from now. Polls will be held in states like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, and Goa next year. Some party leaders reportedly felt that the immediate focus should be on winning these elections rather than holding polls for a new president.
Meet comes amid criticism from G-23 leaders
The meet has come amid criticism from a section of senior party leaders like Kapil Sibal and Ghulam Nabi Azad. Their grouping is called G-23 and they have been calling for internal elections as well as a more active leadership. They had last year written an unprecedented letter to Sonia Gandhi asking for these changes, but the Congress has often sidelined them.
It takes place soon after Congress's Punjab crisis
The meeting also coincides with the ongoing crisis in Congress's Punjab unit. After a bitter feud between former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, the former was asked to resign. However, Sidhu himself resigned from his post just days after that over some key appointments by new CM Charanjit Singh Channi. He has since decided to stay on.
Congress continues to lose prominent leaders
The Congress has continued to lose prominent leaders over the past few years. Last year, longtime Congress member Jyotiraditya Scindia had quit the party to join the rival Bharatiya Janata Party. Since then, leaders like Jitin Prasada, Sushmita Dev, and Luizinho Faleiro have also left.