Updated: January 21, 2021 8:21:46 am
A MEETING of the Congress Working Committee will take place on Friday to finalise the schedule for the election of a new party president. The move comes at a time when many opposition parties are increasingly feeling that the grand old party is not being able to set its house in order and provide leadership required to the opposition camp.
Several opposition leaders, sources said, had been in touch with each other and exchanged notes on strengthening the opposition voice. At least one opposition leader told The Indian Express that he had received a call from Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s office last week informing him that she will talk to him and others and call a meeting of the opposition leaders. “That has not happened… Formal meetings do not take place. That bothers everybody,” he said.
Sonia’s call came on a day when some opposition leaders met NCP chief Sharad Pawar in Delhi. There was also a talk that Pawar should head the UPA. While Pawar has denied reports that he was likely to replace Sonia as the UPA chairperson, Congress leaders believe pressure is mounting on the party.
The CWC would also discuss the feasibility of holding an AICC plenary session given the Covid situation. It is to be seen whether there will be any discussions in the CWC on holding elections for the Working Committee. One senior leader said there could be elections to the CWC this time as demanded by the group of 23 leaders in a letter to Sonia Gandhi in August.
Key demand of the letter writers
While the Congress is set to announce the schedule for election of a new party president, it is to be seen whether the leadership will be willing to hold elections for the CWC, a demand made by the group of 23 leaders who had written to Sonia Gandhi. There is also suspense on what the letter-writers would do — would they field or back anyone for the post of party chief or contest themselves — if elections to the CWC are held.
The Congress central election authority, it is learnt, has sent a proposal to the Congress president on the schedule of elections.
Congress leaders remained hopeful of Rahul Gandhi’s return to the helm and said the increased activities of the former Congress president was an indication in that direction. Ever since Rahul returned from abroad earlier this month, there has been an effort to increase his visibility. He was in Tamil Nadu last week witnessing a Jallikattu event, participated in a street protest in Delhi, made his presence felt at a meeting of the consultative committee on External Affairs and addressed a press conference on Tuesday. He will travel to Tamil Nadu again later this week.
“It is high time the Congress resolves its internal issues… After all, it is the main opposition party and whatever said and done has a presence in most of the states… The opposition needs to be strengthened. There are no two ways about it,” an opposition leader said.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Rahul recalled his campaign against land acquisition in Bhatta Parsaul, giving a personal touch to the Congress’s position on the farmers’ protest.
“I have a character. I am not scared of Narendra Modi or any of these people. I don’t care. I am a clean person. They cannot touch me. Haan goli se maar sakte hain… magar chhu nahin sakte. And I am a patriot. I strive to protect my country. And I will continue to do that. Even if I am alone and the entire country is on the other side… I will stand alone… I am more fanatic than them,” he said when asked about BJP president J P Nadda’s remarks against him earlier in the day.
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