CWC meet: Sonia stays Congress president, party to hold brainstorming session soon

After a nearly five-hour meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Sunday, the Grand Old Party said Sonia Gandhi will remain the party president. The CWC reaffirmed its faith in Sonia’s leadership and authorised her to make necessary organisational changes. The party will soon hold a brainstorming session to draw up the future roadmap, the CWC added.

Sonia will remain as the Congress president till organisational elections are held later this year to appoint a new president. Sources said Sonia told the meeting if any of the members has any reservations over her leadership, she was ready to step down. Briefing reporters, AICC general secretary in charge of organisation K C Venugopal said the CWC had a “sincere” and “very fruitful” discussion.

The CWC admitted that the defeat of the party in the Assembly elections was a cause of serious concern for the Congress. It said the party accepts that there were some shortcomings in its strategy. Congress communication department head Randeep Surjewala said every Congress worker wants Rahul Gandhi to return to the helm but pointed out that the organisational election process is already underway to elect a new president.

“The CWC unanimously reaffirms its faith in the leadership of Sonia Gandhi, and requests the Congress president to lead from the front, address the organisational weaknesses, affect necessary and comprehensive organisational changes in order to take on the political challenges,” the CWC resolution read.

On the defeat, the CWC said, “The recent Assembly election results of five states are a cause of serious concern for the Indian National Congress. The party accepts that due to shortcomings in our strategy, we could not effectively expose the misrule of BJP state governments in four states and overcome the anti-incumbency in the state of Punjab in the short time after effecting a change of leadership.”

Earlier, familiar scenes played out with some party leaders calling for former president Rahul Gandhi to return to the helm.

Notably, despite the rout – the party’s tenth Assembly election defeat since its disastrous showing in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections – none of the senior leaders has expressed lack of faith in the Gandhis. Instead, ahead of the CWC meeting, there was a chorus expressing faith in their leadership. Such shows of support have now become a regular affair in the Congress.

Unlike in the past, the party did not circulate Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s opening speech at the CWC meeting, which began a little after 4pm.

Almost all the members, barring former prime minister Manmohan Singh and senior leader AK Antony (who has tested positive for Covid-19), attended the meeting. The two chief ministers of the party – Rajasthan’s Ashok Gehlot and Chhattisgarh’s Bhupesh Baghel – were among those who attended.

Ahead of the meeting, Gehlot said Rahul should take over as party president again. “Rahul Gandhi should take over as president (so that) the party remains united. It will remain united and it was united under his leadership. They talk about the family. In the last 30 years, no one from the family has become the prime minister or chief minister or minister. Even then, why is the leadership of the party given to them? (Because) people of all sections and religions have faith in the family. And the family is necessary for strengthening the Congress,” Gehlot told ANI.

DK Shivakumar, the party’s Karnataka unit chief, echoed Gehlot when he posted on Twitter, “As I have said earlier as well, Sh. Rahul Gandhi should take up the Congress presidency in a full-time role immediately. This is the wish of millions of Congress workers like me.”

Youth Congress chief Srinivas BV said the Gandhi family is the “thread that binds together not only the Congress but all sections of the country and it is not dependent on any electoral victory or defeat.” The Jharkhand unit of the party passed a resolution expressing faith and confidence in the leadership of Sonia Gandhi.

Gehlot said winning and losing are part of politics and accused the BJP of misleading people in the name of Hindutva and indulging in “dangerous politics”.

“It is very easy to do politics in the name of religion and caste. They are doing that. They are not bothered about the interests of the country. They are only bothered about their interests. It is a dangerous situation. The people of the country will realise all this one day… They painted the Congress as a party of Muslims and through social media they managed to take this (message) to every home. The people started thinking that there must be some truth in it. Slowly, the people will realise and the truth will come out one day,” he said.

As the CWC meeting progressed at 24, Akbar Road, the AICC headquarters, a group of Youth Congress workers assembled outside raising slogans in support of the Gandhis. They were joined by a group led by Delhi Congress leaders, including Alka Lamba.

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