Pushy G23, Mercurial TMC & Elections Ahead: Sonia Gandhi Still Holds Cong's Reins But Road to Revival Not Smooth

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Sonia Gandhi on Saturday asserted her position as a “full-time and hands-on Congress President” at the crucial Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, in a clear message to the G23 leaders, some of whom have raised issues regarding lack of leadership and absence of an elected party chief.

During her address at the party’s highest decision-making body, Gandhi said the revival of the party can only happen with “unity, self-control, discipline and by keeping the party’s interests paramount”.

ALSO READ | ‘Full-Time, Hands-On Cong Prez’: Sonia Gandhi Reinstates Her Role at CWC Meet

The meeting comes at a crucial juncture when the party will be heading for organizational elections- where a much-needed full time president for the party will be elected. Though Sonia Gandhi reiterated that she is “a full-time and hands on Congress President”, her statement doesn’t resonate equally among the party leaders as many want an organizational overhaul of the grand old party.

At present, Sonia Gandhi faces multiple challenges from within and outside the party. News18 takes a look at 5 of these:

G-23 and Organisational elections

There is a long-standing demand of the ‘G-23’ who, in their comments and letters, have cited poor performances in previous Assembly elections and called for a structural change within the party structure. The G-23 leaders include Ghulam Nabi Azad, Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewari, Kapil Sibal and others.

Recently, Congress leader Kapil Sibal had raised his objections after Captain Amarinder Singh was removed as the CM of Punjab. “In our party, at the moment, there is no president, so we don’t know who is taking these decisions. We know and yet we don’t know,” Sibal had said. It later led to protests outside Sibal’s house by Congress workers. Time and again, G-23 leaders, have written to president Sonia Gandhi, asking her to convene a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC).

ALSO READ | Congress President Polls Between Aug 21 and Sept 20 Next Year; Rahul Gandhi to ‘Consider’ Becoming Chief

Party general secretary (oganisation) KC Venugopal said election of Congress president will be held between August 21 and September 20 in 2022. Sources told News18 that Rahul Gandhi has assured party workers that he will consider their demand of taking over the post again.

Lok Sabha Elections 2024

While Sonia Gandhi is facing challenges within the party and organizational elections are to be held, the biggest challenge for Gandhi and the party would be the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. PM Modi, this October, completed his 20 years in public office without a break. His popularity has shown no signs of dwindling and with the upcoming elections in UP, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Punjab, the party has already started making preparations. The next Lok Sabha elections would be a tough challenge for the Congress as it continues to remain out of power in the centre for two terms and losing its hold in several states.

Resurgent TMC and Other Parties

Though TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee has made overtures towards Gandhis for opposition unity at the national level, but she has also kept Congress at an arm’s length. TMC is trying to fill the vacuum created by Congress, which is also evident in the party’s expansion in Goa and Maghalaya.

ALSO READ | Sonia’s Strong Stand and Rahul’s Hesitance to Take Top Job: The Inside Story From the CWC Meet

Recently, Congress leader Sushmita Dev joined TMC. There are also speculations of party leaders in Goa and Maghalaya CM Mukul Sangma joining TMC. Once an ally, TMC will be contesting in Goa, where the Congress was the major opposition. In Bengal, where the Congress was a major opposition, Congress has slipped to zero in the assembly elections this year.

In Punjab, the ruling Congress is expected to see a competition from AAP which will try to increase its seat count in the state.

Dynasty politics

The Congress for long has been attack by the BJP and other parties for its dynasty politics. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had taken the baton of the party from his mother Sonia Gandhi. He had stepped down from the post of the party president after the 2019 general elections taking responsibility for Congress’s defeat. Since then, Sonia Gandhi has been the interim president of the party. However, political parties have been attacking it for long over the dynasty politics in the party.

Upcoming assembly Elections

The elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab will be a litmus test for the party as the party have taken steps in this regard. Congress has pitted Priyanka Gandhi in Uttar Pradesh, who recently led the party in Lakhimpur violence issue. Priyanka Gandhi was also active during the Hathras gangrape agitation and she is currently leading rallies in support of farmers in the state.

Congress made an overhaul ahead of assembly elections in Punjab, removing Amarinder Singh from the CM post. The move seen to make Charanjit Singh Channi as the Punjab CM was seen as Congress’ plan for the assembly polls next year.

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