Home > politics > policy > Rahul Gandhi’s elevation in Congress on hold

New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi will stay on as the boss of India’s oldest political party after its apex decision making body, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), delayed internal polls by a year.

The decision is significant because it has, contrary to the build-up, put on hold the elevation of Sonia Gandhi’s son and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi to the top job as well as the much awaited recast of the top rung of the Congress through the induction of younger leaders.

“We were suppose to have organizational polls in December. But CWC, which met today, suggested amendments to the (party) constitution and rules at different levels," veteran Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters after the meeting.

“CWC discussed these suggestions from different members in detail, and they got approved today and will be implemented. But if one brings amendment to the constitution, it takes time to be implemented and so CWC decided to extend the organizational polls by a year and we will inform the Election Commission about the same," Azad added.

Sonia Gandhi, who took over the Congress helm in May 1998, is already the longest serving president of the 129-year-old party. Rahul Gandhi took over as the No. 2 in the organization in January 2013.

The party on Tuesday defended its decision to delay the elevation by claiming that it was a “perfect situation" with both the leaders at the helm.

According to a senior leader of the party, no discussion over Rahul Gandhi taking over on the top post took place in the CWC meeting on Tuesday. The Congress vice-president is actively involved in the party organization; he has overseen the party’s campaign in several state elections and led the charge against the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the past few months.

“Looking at the development from a simplistic point of view, this simply means that Rahul Gandhi is not ready to take over as yet, and he needs more time and political exposure. But if one looks at it strategically, the extension of Sonia Gandhi’s tenure means that Rahul Gandhi gets more time to bring in a team with like-minded people," said N. Bhaskara Rao, a New Delhi-based political analyst.

“The membership drive in Congress is still going on. He can take over only when this transition is complete and when he selects a team of his own," Rao added.

The CWC approved key changes in the party’s constitution, including an increase in reservation for women, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other backward classes and minorities from 20% to 50% as well as reducing the tenure of membership and committees to three years from five.

The party in its meeting also discussed the conditions in drought-affected areas of the country, food price inflation and constitutional amendment to roll out the Goods and Services Tax (GST). The party said it was in favour of the legislation, but its support for it is subject to certain amendments demanded by it.

Attacking the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi said in her opening address to the CWC: “The Modi Government has failed abysmally to match words with deeds, to match media events with actual accomplishments, to match headlines with substance."

She praised Rahul Gandhi for his “active guidance" in carrying out a “sustained agitation" against the controversial land acquisition bill.

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