Amarinder-Sidhu row: Sonia Gandhi sets up three-member panel to resolve differences among leaders in Punjab

Express News Service
NEW DELHI: It has been nearly two years since Sonia Gandhi took over as interim president of the Congress, but there seems to be no clarity on the next party chief. Elections to the post have been postponed thrice in the last one-and-half years and may be delayed further, with Rahul Gandhi looking to first completely overhaul the party organisation before a new chief is elected.

The elections were scheduled by June-end but were pushed back due to the Covid-19 situation in the country. Congress general secretary (orgnaisation) K C Venugopal had then stated that the deferment was only for two-three months. However, party sources said there is no word on tentative dates to hold the elections. Rahul is focusing on a rejig in Pradesh Congress Committees and the AICC and also firefighting troubles in several state units ahead of assembly polls early next year, they said.

“We have a month-long monsoon session of Parliament starting next week and with several health experts signalling the possibility of a third Covid-19 wave by September-October, the party election is most likely to be pushed post assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, due by February next year,” said a party source. A senior Congress leader said Rahul wants to completely overhaul the organisation before someone takes over as party president. “There is still ambiguity on whether he (Rahul) will take over the reins of the party or it will be someone else,” the leader said.

Congress units in over a dozen key states, including Haryana, Gujarat, Punjab, UP, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, are expected to see changes. Appointments are also due for national office bearers and ongoing tussle among state leadership in Rajasthan, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Himachal units needs to be addressed as well.

The demand for a full-time party chief has been pending since Rahul quit after 2019 Lok Sabha polls. As per the party constitution, the term of the Congress president will end in 2022 after a five-year tenure as Rahul was appointed in 2017. A group of 23 senior party leaders have been repeatedly raking up the leadership vacuum and had met Sonia early this year to share their concerns over the party losing connect with common people.