The Congress on Wednesday decided to reduce its plenary session in December, a sheer formality of concluding celebrations of its 125th anniversary, relegating the Congress Working Committee elections to a one-day All India Congress Committee session to be held in New Delhi on November 2.
"Elections are risky as the elected members can confront Madam in the CWC, the highest decision-making body of the party, causing embarrassment as some of the predecessors experienced in the past and hence those close to her are pestering her to fill it with all nominations," a senior party leader said.
The Constitution, however, provides for election of 12 members and nomination of another 12 by the Congress president in the 25-member CWC. However, since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is also an ex-officio member besides Sonia Gandhi, the nominations will be for only 11 seats, Dwivedi said at an AICC press briefing in New Delhi.
Nominations by Sonia Gandhi has rather become an order of the Congress as she is also authorised by most states to nominate the AICC members who constitute the electorate for electing the CWC members. She has to also nominate the state party presidents as most states' members passed resolutions empowering her to decide the names.
Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi preferred elections at all levels and hence strict instructions were issued to the state units not to crave for nominations by the party high command, but the state leaders either themselves opted to authorise Sonia Gandhi to nominate to avoid infights or the central party leaders sought such authorisations to prevent the party getting divided by holding elections.
Sonia Gandhi is already engaged in consultations with the party general secretaries and state in-charge officials over the past few days to finalise the names of Pradesh Congress Committee presidents and AICC members that will be out soon, the party sources said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan is pitching for the Congress plenary in Maharashtra, possibly in Mumbai that hosted the centenary plenary; or in Pune or Nagpur, but Dwivedi dropped a broad hint that the plenary will be held only in north India.
Lucknow is already under consideration, but Dwivedi said not to hazard the guess as the requests are still pouring in from states for hosting the session. Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is also lobbying for the plenary in his state.
When told that the very charm of fierce campaigning in the plenary will be lost in completing the CWC elections in the AICC session in Delhi, and that too violating the party constitution, Dwivedi shot back that it is the constitution provides for AICC members to elect the CWC members and as such everything is as per the rules.
"Of course, there will be a lot of resolutions we will pass in the plenary. Resolutions are also on the agenda of the AICC session, besides the CWC elections," he affirmed.
The CWC election schedule as announced by Dwivedi provides for nominations from 12 noon to 3 pm on November 2 at the AICC session, withdrawals up to 4 pm and polling from 6 to 10 pm. The counting is slated the next day on November 3 from 10 am.
It, however, appears to show that the party is going through a process of election and as a leader said, even nominations are part of the process.