Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 22
The Congress on Friday said it would have an elected president by June this year through a process of organisational polls and the election for the all-powerful working committee would also be held.
Announcing it after the meeting of the Congress Working Committee, AICC general secretary KC Venugopal said: “The CWC unanimously decided that the new elected Congress president should be in place by June 2021. The CWC considered the election schedule of May 29 proposed by the central election authority and unanimously agreed to extend the schedule until June as counting for five state elections could be happening in May.”
Asked if the suggestion by dissenters, including Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, to hold elections to the CWC was accepted, Venugopal said elections to the committee would be held but “we will have to go back to the constitution to see if CWC elections will be held before or after the election of the Congress chief. The practice is that the CWC elections are held after the Congress president’s election but we are looking into that.”
Venugopal said there were no arguments in the meeting.
This despite clear reports from CWC sources of a bitter spat between Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot and Anand Sharma.
Gehlot is learnt to have ticked off the dissenters without naming them and said “instead of hammering internal Congress elections we should all be talking about fighting elections against the BJP. But we are wasting time discussing irrelevant issues like party elections. We should leave the party matters and decisions to the party president.”
At this, Sharma retorted saying Gehlot had been “disrespectful of people who have raised demands about the need for reforms”.
Senior leader Ambika Soni had to intervene to cool off tempers with Rahul Gandhi later saying “I understand and respect the sentiments of both Gehlot ji and Sharma ji.”
The CWC also passed three resolutions — the first to demand a JPC probe into Arnab chat leaks saying “those guilty of treasonous acts and of violating the official secrets act and breaching national security must be punished”; a second on demanding the repeal of farm laws and third demanding free COVID vaccines for SCs, STs, OBCs and the poor.
Earlier in the meeting, Sonia slammed the Centre for arrogance and inflexibility on farm issues, economic affairs, COVID response and Arnab leaks.
Sonia said the Centre’s silence on the leaking of national security secret in Arnab chats was “deafening” and quoted former defence minister AK Antony as saying that leaking of the national security secret is treason.
Stressing that the Congress would raise people’s issues in the upcoming Parliament session, Gandhi said: “The agitation of farmers continues and the government has shown shocking insensitivity and arrogance going through the charade of consultations. It is abundantly clear that the three laws were prepared in haste and Parliament was consciously denied an opportunity for examining in any meaningful details their implications and impacts.”
Gandhi said the Congress position had been very clear from the beginning: “We reject them categorically because they will destroy the foundations of food security that are based on the three pillars of MSP, public procurement and PDS.”
Citing recent reports on how national security has been compromised, in a reference to Arnab chats, Sonia said: “I think just a few days back, Antony-ji had said that leaking of official secrets of military operations is treason. Yet the silence from the government’s side on what has been revealed has been deafening. Those who give certificates of patriotism and nationalism to others now stand totally exposed.”
She said the vaccination of courageous frontline health professionals and workers had begun and “the Congress hopes the process will continue and be completed to the fullest extent”.
Targeting the Centre on the state of the economy, Sonia said the economic situation remained grim and large parts of the economy like MSME and the informal sector had been decimated with the government refusing to extend a lifeline.
She said, “When public expenditure has to be carefully prioritised, it is very painful to find huge amounts of money being allocated and spent on initiatives that can only be described as personal vanity projects. Equally anguishing is the manner in which the government has weakened labour and environmental laws and it’s moving ahead with selling-off of carefully built-up public assets. Panic privatisation has gripped the government and this is something that the Congress can never accept and support.”
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