Internal election of Congress party

Internal election of Congress party

By Prithviraj Chavan
(Former Chief Minister, Maharashtra State)

Today, after 22 years, the election of the president of the Congress party is taking place. This is an important event in the history of Indian democracy in the last 75 years. Taking responsibility for the defeat of the Congress in the 2019 general elections, MP Rahul Gandhi suddenly resigned as the president of the Congress party in July 2019. On that vacant post, the Congress functionaries requested Sonia Gandhi to re-assume the responsibility as interim president of the party and she accepted, but after almost a year, the Congress did not have a full-time president, Sonia Gandhi was serving as the interim president. But due to her illness, she was not able to devote full time to the presidency as before. Therefore, the party was not taking proper decisions. As a result, the Congress party was badly defeated in several assembly elections. Even in a state with a Congress government.

At such a time, some of us in the Congress party (former Union Ministers, Working Committee Members and Leaders such as former Chief Minister) sought Soniaji's time to discuss about the party. But even after waiting for a month during Covid, the appointment could not be made. So 23 of us wrote a confidential letter to the Congress President about the party situation. In that letter we made three major demands. First, in view of the continuous defeat of the Congress party, a self-study camp should be organized. Second, the party should have a full-time president, and third, the president should be elected by election in accordance with the party constitution, and stalled elections of all committees should be held.

But unfortunately this confidential letter of ours was unofficially given to an English daily and without publishing the letter in its entirety it was deliberately printed with the main points cut and the names of the 23 leaders who wrote the letter were deliberately published. The media derisively called us the G-23. This letter was misconstrued to mean that the 23 were opposed to the Gandhi family. This naturally created confusion among the Congress workers in the country. But after realizing the real situation, Sonia Gandhi called the leaders who wrote the letter for a discussion. We honored Soniaji's invitation and met her.

This meeting was held on 19 December 2020 i.e. four months after writing the letter. Along with me, former Chief Minister Bhupendra Singh Hooda, former Union Minister Kapil Sibal, former Union Minister and former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Shashi Tharoor, Anand Sharma, Manish Tiwari along with 9 other members of the working committee and 19 people including Sonia ji, Rahul and Priyanka were present.

In this meeting which lasted for five consecutive hours, all topics were discussed at length. At that time we clearly presented our stand before Soniaji. After the meeting, Sonia Gandhi accepted all our demands mentioned at the beginning. But nothing could happen in 2021 due to Covid. A whole year was wasted. During this period the Congress lost five more assembly elections, and three of our 23 senior leaders left the party. Some took a different side. But we were trying to get justice by struggling within the party, no matter how much trouble. Those efforts eventually paid off.

Our insistence was only on having a full-time chairman. We felt that Rahul Gandhi or anyone else should accept the post of President but he should give the post full time, of course there is no other familiar face in the party like Rahul Gandhi. The polite and cultured Rahul held the post of president during the party's downfall. But now he made it clear that neither he nor anyone from the Gandhi family would become president. So it was imperative that someone else become the full-time president, respecting his sentiments.

On 19th October, Shri Mallikarjun Kharge or Dr Tharoor. It is expected that one of them will be elected as the president and will devote full time to strengthening the party. Due to the role of 23 of us, internal elections are taking place which have not been held in 22 years in the Congress party which has a history of 137 years.

People want an alternative to Modi government. They want Congress back. The leader elected as the Congress President will further hold elections for all the vacant posts in the party - Working Committee, Parliamentary Board and Selection Committee - as per the constitution of the Congress Party.

The decision-making process in the party will be based on comprehensive discussion and exchange of ideas. There will be no artificial discrimination between old and young. It is certain that importance will be given to the accomplished leaders elected by the people in all positions.

The "Bharat Jodo" Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi and the co-ordination of the full-time party president elected along with him will give new life to the party. This is important for the return of Congress. It is a relief to voters who believe that an effective opposition party is necessary to strengthen democracy in the country. It is only through this that the country can avoid the threat to democracy and economy.


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