The Congress party's top brass met on Saturday morning and deliberated on key issues such as organisation elections, forthcoming assembly polls, the current political situation in the country at the first physical meeting of the party's working committee since the COVID-19 outbreak.
Leaders, including party president Sonia Gandhi, former chief Rahul Gandhi, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Congress chief ministers Ashok Gehlot of Rajasthan, Bhupesh Baghel of Chhattisgarh and Charanjit Channi of Punjab attended the meeting.
Senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma were among those present at the meeting at the AICC headquarters here.
Opening remarks of Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi at the CWC meeting:- pic.twitter.com/74K4qjGkZS
- Congress (@INCIndia) October 16, 2021
The meeting comes amid demands from some quarters to discuss important issues, including some defections in the recent past. The meet also gains significance as the party has been witnessing issues within its state units in Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
On workings of the party and its president
Congress president Sonia Gandhi in her statement said: "I am, if you will allow me to say so, a full-time and hands-on Congress president. In the last two years, a large number of our colleagues, particularly the younger ones have taken on leadership roles in taking party policies and programmes to the people -- whether it be the agitation of farmers, provision of relief during the pandemic, highlighting issues of concern to youth and women, atrocities on Dalits, Adivasis and minorities, price rise, and the destruction of the public sector."
She also said that the entire organisaton wants a revival of the party, but that requires unity and the party's interests have to be paramount. "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," said Sonia in her statement.
She, however, added that owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, the elections for a president had been pushed back indefinitely. The Congress chief said that the meet being held today would bring clarity and that a schedule for full-fledged organisational elections were 'before them'.
She also added that she has always appreciated frankness and that there was no need to speak to her through the media. "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 added.
Sonia's statement comes at a time when the G-23 leaders have been demanding to convene the CWC with Kapil Sibal last month saying that he wondered who in the party was taking decisions in the absence of a full-time president. He had also asserted that the G23 leaders' grouping is "not a Jee Huzur 23".
Former leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad had also written to the Congress president to convene a meeting of the CWC at the earliest.
On upcoming state Assembly elections
Sonia also brought forth that the party had already begun its preparations for the upcoming state elections.
States such as Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Manipur, Goa, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat will be going to the polls in 2022.
In her statement, she said, "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."
On political situation in India
Sonia also issued scathing remarks against the Narendra Modi government and the situation in the country.
The economy continued to be a cause of great concern and that the government's only answer to recovery was selling off national assets. "All this is in jeopardy with the Modi government's single-point agenda of Becho, Becho, Becho. Meanwhile, prices of essential commodities " food and fuel included " continue to rise unabated," she remarked.
She also highlighted the sudden spurt in killings in Jammu and Kashmir and said that the minorities were clearly being targeted and that it needed to be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
She, however, took a jibe at the Centre, saying that restoring social peace and harmony and confidence amongst the people in Jammu and Kashmir rests with the Modi government too.
The CWC also spoke of the Lakhimpur-Kheri incident and said that it "betrays the mindset of the BJP, how it perceives the Kisan Andolan and how it has been dealing with this determined struggle by Kisans to protect their lives and livelihoods.
With inputs from agencies