New Delhi: The Congress’ Central Election Authority (CEA) has set in motion the process of electing the next party president, and written to state presidents saying it plans “to convene an AICC (All India Congress Committee) meeting as soon as possible”.
However, the CEA has not taken a call yet on how and when the elections to the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s powerful decision-making body, will be held, ThePrint has learnt.
The CEA is a five-member committee that was set up by interim party president Sonia Gandhi last month, tasked with the responsibility of conducting organisational elections and membership drives. The panel is led by veteran leader Madhusudan Mistry, and has as members Rajesh Mishra, Krishna Byre Gowda, S. Jothimani and Arvinder Singh Lovely.
A CEA member, who didn’t wish to be named, said the plan is to hold an AICC session in January when the new president will be introduced.
“Right now, our focus is on collecting the information of all the state members, so that we have a list ready. Then, we can have an election in the next two months, or have an unopposed member become the president, if that is the case,” the CEA member added.
“But it’s important to first have a comprehensive list of all the AICC members. Many people have left the party, or passed away, and so the list needs to be updated,” the member added.
Congress presidents are elected on the basis of votes cast by AICC members.
In its letter to state Congress presidents Thursday, the committee, which met two weeks ago to discuss the logistics required to hold the elections, sought a list of all the AICC members of the state complete with details including names, email IDs, mobile numbers and passport size photos “as a prerequisite to participate in the meeting”.
“This is to inform you that the All India Congress Committee intends to convene an AICC meeting as soon as possible. You will be intimated once the dates and venue are finalised,” states the letter, a copy of which was accessed by ThePrint.
It has been over a year since Sonia Gandhi took over as interim Congress president, after Rahul Gandhi stepped down following the party’s drubbing in the May 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The 2019 Lok Sabha polls were the second successive election where the Congress scored a dismal two-digit tally in a house of 543.
‘Decision on CWC only after electing president’
In August, 23 senior Congress leaders, including former chief ministers and Union ministers, sitting MPs and CWC members, wrote to Sonia, demanding a leadership overhaul and CWC elections.
The committee, however, hasn’t yet taken a call on if and when the CWC polls will be held.
“Our priority right now is to hold the polls for the post of president. The CWC has to have the president of the party. Without the president, there is no CWC,” the source quoted above said.
“So, it is important that a president is elected first, and then it can be decided what to do about the CWC.”
While the letter became a major point of contention at the August CWC meeting, it was later announced by the party that the demand for a “full and active” leadership has been noted. It was decided that Sonia Gandhi will continue as interim party president “till the next AICC session”.