Dissent in Congress over search for party chief

‘Informal’ process questioned by MPs

A clutch of Congress leaders are planning to raise questions about the legitimacy of an informal process under way for selecting a successor to Rahul Gandhi, who resigned as party president in May. The MPs are likely to begin a public battle demanding that the Congress Working Committee be disbanded, and fresh elections be held to put a new committee in place.

“If the president has resigned, the CWC has to be automatically disbanded and there should be elections… If we can get elected under such adverse circumstances, why should nominated members decide the future of the Congress,” a Lok Sabha member said.

A group, that includes both Lok Sabha MPs and party functionaries, has decided that once the Karnataka political crisis ends, a public battle will be mounted to raise the demand for fresh elections to the CWC. “The delay is hurting us as the Congress president’s chair has not been vacant for so long in the past,” another MP said.

The group has both elected members as well as senior Congress functionaries, a source said.

The last time Congress saw a contest for the post of president was in October 2000 when Jitendra Prasada stood against present United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi. Ms. Gandhi was contesting for the president’s post for the first time. Of the 12,000 votes cast, Mr. Prasada secured less than 1,000 votes at the time.

Because of the situation in Karnataka, the Congress has put on hold the process of selecting the new president.

The outgoing president Rahul Gandhi had resigned on May 24, during the CWC to discuss the Lok Sabha results. More than a month later, on July 3, he wrote an open letter calling an end to speculation that he may want to continue.

Two MPs from LS

Till now, the process of consultations to bring in a new regime has been limited to the CWC.

Together with 24 members, 19 permanent invitees and 10 special invitees, the CWC has 53 persons.

There are only two Lok Sabha MPs in the committee. CWC members were asked for their preference for the president’s post, and it was decided that based on these deliberations, a meeting of the committee will be called to pick a provisional president, who will then chair the elections for a new president.

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