Sonia convenes meeting of senior leaders on Dec. 19

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has convened a meeting of senior leaders including some members from group of 23 (G-23) dissenters at her residence on December 19 to discuss the upcoming Assembly elections, on-going farmers’ agitation and the government skipping the winter session of Parliament, a senior leader of the party said on Thursday.

This will be the first time that party leaders will meet with the Congress president in person at 10 Janpath residence. All meetings were so far conducted virtually ever since COVID-19 restrictions kicked in March.

The party leader quoted above said some meetings could stretch onto Sunday as Ms Gandhi would try to meet those who had sought appointments from her in the past few months.

Among the dissenters, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Deputy Leader Anand Sharma, former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor is likely to be part of the strategy meeting.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath have also been invited.

Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Assam and Puducherry are scheduled in April-May next year and the Congress leaders would be discussing about forging alliances in these key States.

Earlier, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had held discussions with leaders of these States and had given a report to Ms Gandhi.

Ms. Gandhi is likely to discuss the party’s debacle in the Bihar Assembly polls, poor performance in the by-polls to 58 seats across several States, setback in the local bodies’ elections in Rajasthan, Hyderabad, Kerala and the council elections in Bodoland Territorial Region of Assam.

The Congress chief will also discuss the ongoing farmers’ agitation over three new farm laws and the Narendra Modi government’s decision not to hold the winter session of Parliament.

The timing of the meeting is significant as it comes amidst a churn in the party over the leadership issue, with G-23 leaders writing to Ms Gandhi in August to pitch for a “full-time and active leadership”, organizational elections and have elected members to the Congress Working Committee (CWC).

Following the letter by G-23, the party’s central election authority (CEA) is gearing up to hold organizational polls including a new elected party president by January end-first week of February.

With growing turbulence in the party, a section of the party is keen that Rahul Gandhi takes back the reins for the Congress to function unitedly.

“Sonia ji wants to bring the different factions together and make them to work in close coordination with Rahul ji to strengthen the party,” the senior leader said.

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