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CWC meet to take stock of current political situation

May 29, 2012 23:26 IST

After a long gap, Congress President Sonia Gandhi has convened a meeting of the Congress Working Committee on 4th June to discuss the 'current political and economic situation in the country'.

The CWC is likely to be an extended one which means that Congress Legislature Party leaders, Pradesh Congress Committee presidents, frontal organisation chiefs and other invitees are to be called for the meeting.

The CWC which has been sidelined by Sonia and has virtually become a defunct body, meeting only to pass condolence messages for those leaders who are no more.

It no longer meets to discuss, debate or to share views on critical and crucial issues. This role has been taken over by the core committee which meets every week and consists of just a few top party leaders who take a call on almost all important matters related to the party and the government.

There is surprise in Congress circles as to how and why this meeting has been called as it comes at a time when the Congress has to name its Presidential candidate and is grappling with issues of an economic downslide, the rise of petrol prices, galloping inflation, increasing price rise, corruption, and the diminishing image of the congress-led government at the centre.

The CWC is also being held after the massive congress debacle in UP where the Congress was expected to perform well, after which party general secretary Rahul Gandhi was to be elevated in the party hierarchy.

There has been growing pressure within the party to reactivate the CWC where leaders could meet to discuss and debate important issues.

It is also being held at a time when there is a strong buzz that major changes in the CWC, the All India Congress Committee and PCC presidents to be made to streamline the organisation and prepare it for the coming elections this year and next year and make it battle-fit, which it certainly is not.

Sources say that the lists of those being changed are being prepared, but when that happens is a question mark as Sonia has still not made up her mind.

A senior leader ruled out that the A K Antony committee report on election debacle in UP would be discussed in the CWC, saying it was only for the reference of the Congress president to help her take future decisions but she may make some reference to the report if she though appropriate.

But sources say that unlike in the past, the Congress president may take an authorisation from the CWC, to decide who would be the party's candidate for the coming presidential elections.

It is normally left to the Congress president to decide but this time around because of the all around support being received by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee from the allies, the supporting parties, the opposition, and even the media, Sonia appears to have been placed in a bind and would like the party to authorise her to select the candidate and try and evolve a consensus on the name to get the widest amount of support.

The issue of the presidentship is not discussed in the CWC but sources say that while the issue may not be discussed, she may like to take an authorisation from the committee.

The Congress is also not willing to give up the vice-presidentship to the opposition, even in the interest of consensus as it would then become difficult for them to run and control the Rajya Sabha.

With the help of the Left parties and the Samajwadi Party, the Congress would like to retain both the posts with themselves and the idea is to present a united and unified face within the party by getting an authorisation.

Sources add that after the UP and Punjab defeas, murmurings have begun within the party on the style of functioning of Sonia and Rahul, as well as the fact that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has outlived his utility and that he should make way for a "political prime minister" which can help the government salvage its torn and worn out image.

In that context the Congress president by calling a meeting of the CWC would be looking to reinforce her image as the supreme leader and to convey the message that it is her writ which runs in the party and that she alone would decide who would be the next president of India.

Congress managers have been working to consolidate that impression and to damage control the effects of the assembly elections.

Renu Mittal in New Delhi