Despite the crushing election defeat, the Congress would hold its once-in-five-year organisational elections on schedule. The elections are due next year and sources said the high command is set to ask state units to launch membership drives as early as possible so the election process can begin early next year and be completed by the year end.
But, the elections may not be held the way Congress second-in-command Rahul Gandhi wanted. Sources said Rahul had been arguing that even the office bearers of the AICC — general secretaries and secretaries — should be elected. But sources indicated the reshuffle of the AICC will take place in the next one month indicating that the existing system of party chief appointing the office bearers will not be tampered with.
Besides, sources said electing leadership through consensus, if there is one, would also remain unchanged. “We cannot force elections. If there is a consensus on someone, how can we reject that and say elections should be conducted. Even the Election Commission cannot insist on elections if there is only one candidate in the fray in an Assembly or Parliament seat,” a senior Congress leader said.
Half of the members of the Congress Working Committee will continue to be appointed by the Congress president, the other half elected by the AICC members.
Congress general secretary in charge of organisation Janardan Dwivedi said elections will be held at all levels – from primary unit to the Congress president. The Assembly election-bound states of Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and J&K will get some relaxation. Organisational elections were last conducted in the Congress in 2010. Dwivedi said the most important priority of the party now should be the organisation.
“When parties are in power, much attention is not paid to the organisation. We have time now to strengthen the organisation. We should seize the opportunity and hold organisational elections to strengthen the party,” he said.
The shop had stored over 20 drums of kerosene that fuelled the blaze and it quickly spread through the entire building.