The steering committee which replaced the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the top decision-making body of the party, started discussions at the beginning of the 85th plenary session and approved the agenda for the three-day conclave, sources said.
The committee unanimously decided to authorise party chief Mallikarjun Kharge to nominate all CWC members, said party leader Jairam Ramesh. He also said that party’s constitution is being amended to ensure representation to women, Dalits, tribals, OBCs, minorities and youth.
In his inaugural address, here’s what Kharge said-
– On the CWC elections he said, “As Congress president I want to just urge you to express yourself freely and take a decision collectively.Whatever decision you take, that will be my decision and of everyone”.
– The Congress chief said the plenary session is being held at a time when democracy and the Constitution are “under threat” and Parliamentary institutions are facing serious crisis and political activities being being put under scrutiny.
– He said since 1885, there have been 84 sessions of the Congress party and this convention is very special as it marks 100 years since Mahatma Gandhi was elected the Congress president.
– Several historic decisions have been taken at different plenary sessions and some have been milestones, he added.
Meanwhile, former presidents Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have skipped the meeting and are likely to arrive later in the day. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is also not present at the Steering Committee meet.
The Steering Committee met in the morning, while the Subject Committee will meet in the evening.
– Holding elections to the CWC is a key decision that the Steering Committee will take. The CWC has a total of 25 members, including the Congress president and the leader of the Congress in Parliament, besides 12 elected members and 11 nominated ones.
– The tradition in the party has been to have a consensus body and the Committee gives the right to the Congress president to have a body of his choice to avoid any divisions.
– As deliberations began for the crucial decision of CWC elections, members were equally divided on holding of elections and some saying CWC should be nominated
Gehlot-Maken arrive in same bus
The members of the committee arrived in two buses, and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot and Ajay To make were in the same bus.
Differences had cropped up between the two leaders after the Rajasthan Congress MLAs defied party line and held a parallel meeting in September 2022. A miffed Maken had resigned as the party’s General Secretary in-charge of Rajasthan.
The session comes against the backdrop of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, which the party has touted as a success, and will be attended by around 15,000 delegates.
The plenary session is being held at a time when the Congress faces unprecedented challenges electorally and even to its primacy in the opposition bloc.
While the Congress hopes to stitch an anti-BJP front for the 2024 polls, having said that it alone has the moral and the organisational power to lead it, clouds of disunity are hovering over it.
(With inputs from agencies)