As the Congress’ steering committee started discussions on whether to hold elections for the party’s working committee or not, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Friday urged the members to freely express themselves and take a collective call on the crucial decision.
The steering committee which replaced the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the top decision-making body of the party, started discussions at the beginning of the 85th plenary session here and approved the agenda for the three-day conclave, sources said.
Former presidents Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have skipped the meeting and are likely to arrive later in the day. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is also not present at the Steering Committee meet.
In his inaugural address, Kharge, on the CWC elections said, “As Congress president I want to just urge you to express yourself freely and take a decision collectively.Whatever decision you take, that will be my decision and of everyone”.
Holding elections to the CWC is a key decision that the Steering Committee will take. The CWC has a total of 25 members, including the Congress president and the leader of the Congress in Parliament, besides 12 elected members and 11 nominated ones.
The tradition in the party has been to have a consensus body and the Committee gives the right to the Congress president to have a body of his choice to avoid any divisions.
In his opening remarks, the Congress chief said the plenary session is being held at a time when democracy and the Constitution are “under threat” and Parliamentary institutions are facing serious crisis and political activities being being put under scrutiny.
He said since 1885, there have been 84 sessions of the Congress party and this convention is very special as it marks 100 years since Mahatma Gandhi was elected the Congress president.
Several historic decisions have been taken at different plenary sessions and some have been milestones, he added.
As deliberations began for the crucial decision of CWC elections, members were equally divided on holding of elections and some saying CWC should be nominated.