Congress President Sonia Gandhi has called a meeting of senior leaders, including some of the 23 “dissenters”, at her residence on Saturday to discuss matters like the revival of the party, upcoming Assembly elections and the farmers’ protest, The Hindu reported on Thursday.
This will be the first in-person party meeting at Gandhi’s residence since the imposition of the countrywide lockdown on March 25 to control the spread of the coronavirus. An unidentified Congress leader told the newspaper that the meeting could stretch till Sunday.
The Congress is likely to decide on alliances for the elections in Assam, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, which are scheduled to take place next year. The party leaders are also expected to talk about Congress’ performance in the Bihar Assembly elections and the setback in the bye-polls in 11 states.
The party will also discuss the cancellation of the Parliament’s winter session. Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had asked the Centre to hold a short session to discuss the intensifying farmers’ protest.
An unidentified Congress member told Hindustan Times that Sonia Gandhi wanted all the leaders to work closely with Rahul Gandhi and put at end to the impasse within the party.
Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Shashi Tharoor are among the dissenting leaders likely to be part of the strategy meeting on Saturday. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Madhya Pradesh Congress head Kamal Nath and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram are also likely to attend the meeting.
In August, at least 23 Congress leaders, including Kapil Sibal, Tharoor, Prithviraj Chavan and Milind Deora, had written to Gandhi, asking for a complete revamp of the party’s organisation. Tharoor had also called for holding elections to appoint the party chief. He had, however, maintained that the elections should be held if Rahul Gandhi does not wish to take over as the party president.
This development came at a time when several Congress leaders expressed the need for introspection about the party’s repeated poor performance in elections. However, while a few senior politicians in the party have criticised its functioning, some have defended the leadership of the Gandhis, triggering an infighting.
The Congress is also preparing to conduct organisational polls and elect a president in the beginning of February.