NEW DELHI: Elections for appointing a full-time Congress president will be held in September 2022, Sources said amid a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) in the national capital.
Sonia Gandhi has been the party’s interim President since her son Rahul Gandhi’s resignation as party chief in 2019.
Seeking to allay concerns raised by party workers, Sonia Gandhi said at the CWC that she was the “full-time and hands-on Congress President”.
Sonia Gandhi stressed on “revival of the grand old party” and said that it requires “unity, self control and discipline”.
Addressing the CWC, which is the highest decision making body of Congress, Sonia Gandhi said, “Entire organisation wants a revival of the Congress. But this requires unity and keeping the party’s interests paramount.
“Above all, it requires self-control and discipline,” she said, adding, “I am acutely conscious of the fact that I have been interim Congress President ever since the CWC, asked me to return in this capacity in 2019.”
She said that thereafter, you may recall, we finalised a roadmap for electing a regular President by June 30 2021 but the second wave of Covid-19 overtook the country and this deadline was extended indefinitely by the CWC in its meeting held on May 10, 2021.
Speaking about the organisational elections of the party, the Congress leader said, “Today is the occasion for bringing clarity once and for all. A schedule for full-fledged organisational elections is before you.
She said that party general secretary, (Organisation) KC Venugopal will brief on the entire process of organisational elections.
Warning the party leaders of speaking to media on several party issues, Sonia Gandhi said, “I have always appreciated frankness. There is no need to speak to me through the media. So let us all have a free and honest discussion. But what should get communicated outside the four walls of this room is the collective decision of the CWC.”
She also hailed the roles played by the younger leaders and said that in the last two years, a large number of party colleagues, particularly the younger ones have taken on leadership roles in taking party policies and programmes to the people.
Talking about the party’s preparations for the upcoming assembly elections in several states, she said: “Our preparations had already begun a while back. Undoubtedly, we face many challenges but if we are united, if we are disciplined and if we focus on the party’s interests alone, I am confident that we will do well.”
Commenting on the farmers protest over the tree farm laws, Sonia Gandhi said, “It has been over a year since the ‘teen kaale kanoon’ (three black farm laws) were bulldozed through Parliament. We had done our best to have them subjected to legislative scrutiny but the (Narendra) Modi government was hell bent on getting them passed so that a few private companies could benefit.”
She said that farmers began their protests immediately and have suffered much since then.
Commenting on Lakhimpir Kheri October 3 incident where four farmers were mowed down by speeding vehicle of MoS Ajay Mishr Teni, he said, “The shocking incidents at Lakhimpur-Kheri recently betrays the mindset of the BJP, how it perceives the Kisan Andolan (farmers protest), how it has been dealing with this determined struggle by farmers to protect their lives and livelihoods.”
Pointing out at the economic condition of the country, she slammed the government and said that “the only answer the government seems to have for economic recovery is selling off national assets built with great effort over the decades”.
The public sector has had not just strategic and economic objectives—it has had social goals as well, as, for instance, empowerment of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and development of backward areas. But all this is in jeopardy with the Modi government’s single-point agenda of Becho, Becho, Becho
Hitting out at the government over the price rise of essential items, she said that prices of essential commodities – food and fuel included – continue to rise unabated.
“This is making life unbearable for people across the country,” she said.
Taking credit of the government’s changed Covid vaccine policy, she said, “The government has changed its vaccine procurement policy. This has been done in response to the demands of the states. This was one of those rare occasions when the states were actually heard and the country benefitted.”
Slamming the government she said that even so, “cooperative federalism” remains only a slogan and the Centre loses no opportunity to put non-BJP states at a disadvantage.
Speaking of recent killing of civilians in Jammu and Kashmir, Sonia Gandhi said, “In recent days, there has been a sudden spurt in killings in Jammu and Kashmir. Minorities clearly have been targeted. This must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
“J&K has been a Union Territory for two years. The entire responsibility for bringing the perpetrators of these barbaric crimes to justice is that of the Union government. Restoring social peace and harmony and confidence amongst the people in J&K rests with the Modi government too,” she said.
She also targeted the government over it’s foreign policy and said that there has always been a broad consensus on foreign and neighbourhood policy in our country.
But that consensus has been damaged because of the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) continued reluctance to take the Opposition into confidence in any meaningful manner
“Foreign policy has become a diabolical instrument of electoral mobilisation and polarization. We face serious challenges on our borders and on other fronts. The Prime Minister telling the opposition leaders last year that there had not been any occupation of our territory by China and his silence ever since is costing our nation dearly,” she said.
Besides Sonia Gandhi, party leader Rahul Gandhi, KC Venugopal and several other senior leaders were also present in the meeting.