Home / Politics / Policy /  Congress says will press ahead with internal polls to face the future

New Delhi: Pushed on the backfoot by electoral setbacks at the Centre and in two key states, the Congress party on Tuesday vowed to press ahead with “swift, organized and fair" internal polls to face the future.

At its central election authority meeting attended by state unit heads, vice-president Rahul Gandhi said he wanted the organizational elections to be “free, fair and transparent" to prepare the party for future elections. This was also the first formal interaction of Congress leaders since the party’s defeat in Maharashtra and Haryana.

The party is still reeling from its worst electoral defeat in the Lok Sabha polls, where it was reduced to just 44 members. In the just-concluded state elections too, the Congress was ejected from power in its key bastions of Maharashtra and Haryana, and was cornered to a distant third in both states.

Gandhi said the organizational elections should be utilized to “re-invigorate and rejuvenate" the party’s organizational strength.

Apart from a report to study the reasons for the party’s defeat in general elections by a committee headed by senior leader A.K. Antony, the Congress has officially taken no steps for a course correction. There are expectations of an organizational reshuffle, but there is no clarity over when it would happen.

“This was, in a way, the third meeting of the committee where all the state unit presidents gave their progress reports," Janardan Dwivedi, general secretary in charge of organization, told reporters after the meeting. “The vice-president said that our elections should be completed swiftly in an organized and fair manner which should strengthen the party."

The Congress will enrol new members till the end of the year. The party’s internal elections begin with electing representatives from the smallest units such as blocks, districts and states. The party president is expected to be elected by next July.

To be sure, the post of vice-president in Congress is not an elected one and is usually a special arrangement.

A party leader who attended the meeting on Tuesday said concerns were raised over how most appointments in states were still in the hands of senior leaders.

“Some leaders raised the concern that those people who do enlist a lot of members eventually do not get representation in the party and that senior leaders often impose their choices in state units," the leader cited above said, requesting anonymity.

Political experts who say swift and fair internal elections are the way forward for the Congress, add implementation is key.

“In principle, this is a good step, but only if they (senior leaders) could stick to it and implement it. If they are claiming that the elections would be transparent and a bottom-up approach will be followed independent of vested interests, then it is a good move," said N. Bhaskara Rao, a New Delhi-based political analyst, who has closely observed the Congress party. “They have often talked about internal democracy in the party before, elections too have happened in the party before, but it has failed to bring up new and younger people, barring some exceptions."

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