Congress sets ball rolling for election of new chief




The Congress' Central Election Authority headed by Madhusudan Mistry has started the process for the election of the party president.

New Delhi: The Congress' Central Election Authority headed by Madhusudan Mistry has started the process for the election of the party president.

He has asked the state units to send the names of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) members who are eligible to vote for the party president's election.

In an internal memo issued to the state chiefs on Thursday, Mistry wrote: "This is to inform you that AICC intends to convene its meeting as soon as possible, and you will be intimated as dates and venue is finalised."

The authority has asked to give the names and photographs of the AICC members for issuing them identity cards so that they can attend the meeting.

This is being seen as a step in wake of the letter written by 23 leaders of the party demanding elections in the organisation from the block to the CWC level and the appointment of a permanent president.

After the 23 Congress leaders wrote a letter in August, the party witnessed a stormy CWC meeting in which former Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi had targeted the party dissenters and questioned the timing of the letter.

The letter, which was sent to party's interim Chief Sonia Gandhi, sought a leadership change, even as Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh Chief Ministers requested Rahul Gandhi to take over as the party chief.

Sonia Gandhi offered to step down from the party's top post, but it was rejected by former Prime Minister and veteran Congress leader Manmohan Singh as he asked her to continue.

With many Congress leaders openly demanding Rahul Gandhi to be brought back as the party chief without any further delay, the party made it clear that the CWC meeting would discuss the issue.

The letter, while expressing concerns with the rise of the BJP, called for a "full-time" party President. Sonia Gandhi has been the interim chief since last year.

In the letter, the party leaders said that "the leadership should be effective and visible on the ground". The leaders were miffed with the party for 'reducing itself to holding only press conferences and tweeting', said a signatory on the condition of anonymity.

They said the party leadership should take everybody along and put up a serious challenge to the BJP.

The signatories included Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, former Chief Ministers Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Veerappa Moily, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Prithviraj Chavan, party sources had said.

The letter lamented that the "party is declining and unable to confront the rise of the BJP in the country". These leaders wanted elections from block level up to the CWC.

The elections in the CWC were discontinued after Sonia Gandhi took charge in 1998 and the nomination system was adopted for the highest decision-making body in the party.

The revival of the parliamentary board was also sought by these leaders.

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