New Delhi: The Congress’s apex decision making body, the Congress Working Committee, or CWC, is all set for a crucial meeting on Monday that is likely to launch the process of electing Rahul Gandhi as the president of India’s oldest political party.
On the agenda of the crucial meeting is signing off on the schedule for upcoming internal polls to appoint the next Congress president to replace the party’s longest-serving incumbent Sonia Gandhi.
Senior party leaders say the meeting could pave the way for elevating party vice-president Rahul Gandhi to the top post without a challenge. With the internal poll process expected to be wound up in a fortnight, party leaders are hopeful that Rahul Gandhi’s anointment as president-elect is likely to be formalized before the 9 December Gujarat polls.
“The final schedule for election to the president’s post is likely to get approved in the CWC meeting on Monday. As of now, it seems unlikely that anyone is going to contest against Rahul Gandhi. If such is the case, then he will be announced as the president-elect," a senior Congress leader, aware of developments, said requesting anonymity.
Senior Congress leader Mullappally Ramachandran-led central election authority (CEA), which is authorized to hold the internal polls, is already known to have apprised the party president of the tentative schedule. Once the CWC approves the poll schedule, the CEA will notify the dates of filing, withdrawal and scrutiny of nominations. If there’s no contest, the result could be announced after the scrutiny of nomination.
“While the president-elect will for all practical purposes be the party chief, a formal ratification of this will happen at the national level plenary session of the party following which Gandhi will officially take over as the party president. A date for the plenary session will be decided upon after the assembly elections get over," another party leader said requesting anonymity.
If all goes to plan, Congress will ensure that its internal poll is completed by the 31 December deadline set by Election Commission. The rest of the elections to other internal posts is on schedule but the process of electing the president has taken longer owing to the top leadership’s engagement with state assembly polls.
It has been over a year that the CWC nominated Rahul Gandhi to the top post, subject to Sonia Gandhi’s approval. Rahul Gandhi took over as the second-in-command to his mother in January 2013. In the past two years, he has been virtually leading the party in terms of organizational decisions as well as in state election campaigns.