The Congress will hold a Chintan Shivir immediately after the Budget Session of Parliament.
Days after its election debacle in five states, the Congress’ top decision-making body on Sunday brainstormed over the way forward “”and “unanimously reaffirmed” faith in the leadership of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
Amid calls for large-scale reforms to revive the party’s dwindling electoral fortunes, AICC general secretary KC Venugopal said after the over four-hour meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) that the party president will immediately take up corrective measures to revam and re-strengthen organisation.
The Congress will hold a Chintan Shivir immediately after the Budget Session of Parliament and the CWC will meet again before that, he told reporters Gandhi listened to all leaders at the CWC meet and said she is willing to make required changes to strengthen the party, sources said.
“Every single member of the CWC wants Sonia Gandhi to guide party till organisational elections are held,” Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said.
The CWC has unanimously reaffirmed faith in the leadership of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Venugopal added.
Former party chief Rahul Gandhi, general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Venugopal, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, party’s leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and P Chidambaram were among those who attended the Congress Working Committee meeting.
Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Mukul Wasnik were the only three from the Group of 23 leaders who participated in the meeting of the CWC, which has a large number of Gandhi family loyalists.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi listened to all leaders at the CWC meet and said she is willing to make all required changes to strengthen the party, sources said.
Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot suggested at the CWC meet that a ‘Chintan Shivir (brainstorming session)’ be held by Congress in his state.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh did not attend the meeting. Senior party leader A K Antony was also not present as he has contracted Covid.
The Congress lost Punjab to the Aam Aadmi Party, could not wrest Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur from the BJP and the party’s tally in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh fell to its lowest.
While Sonia Gandhi has not been actively campaigning for some time, Rahul Gandhi, along with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, had been the star campaigner for the Congress in the polls, with the brother-sister duo also playing a major role in key decisions of the party.
Despite a high-pitched campaign led by Priyanka Gandhi, the Congress could manage to win only two of the 403 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh with the vote share plummeting to a meagre 2.33 percent and most of its candidates losing security deposits.
Ahead of the meeting, the chorus for making Rahul Gandhi Congress president again grew louder as several leaders and workers voiced support for him to take on the mantle of party chief.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said no one was taking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Rahul Gandhi does and was fighting resolutely.
“The prime minister has to start his speech after targeting Rahul Gandhi, you can understand what this means. All of us want that Rahul ji should take on the mantle of party leadership,” Gehlot told reporters.
Karnataka Congress president D K Shivakumar also backed the idea to make Gandhi the party chief.
“As I have said it earlier as well, Sh. Rahul Gandhi should take up the Congress presidency in a full-time role immediately. This is the wish of millions of Congress workers like me,” he tweeted.
Congress workers from around Delhi, who converged near the party office, were not allowed to enter the AICC headquarter as traffic was held up and the road outside the party office was barricaded by the police.
A group led by Delhi Congress leaders, including Alka Lamba, voiced support for Rahul Gandhi to lead the party and raised slogans in his and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi’s favour.
Rahul Gandhi had resigned as Congress president after the party suffered its second consecutive defeat in general elections in 2019. Sonia Gandhi, who took over the reins of the party again as interim president, had also offered to quit in August 2020 after strong criticism by a section of leaders, referred to as G-23, but the CWC had urged her to continue.
Earlier in the day, top Congress leaders discussed the party’s strategy for the upcoming Budget Session of Parliament and decided to work in coordination with other like-minded parties to raise issues of public importance.
The meeting of the Congress Parliamentary strategy group was held at the residence of party president Sonia Gandhi.