Gandhis Skip Key Poll Meet, Will Attend Raipur Congress Conclave Today

Gandhis Skip Key Poll Meet, Will Attend Raipur Congress Conclave Today

Former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, son Rahul and daughter Priyanka skipped a key meeting held in Chhattisgarh's Raipur Friday that discussed elections to the party's top body, the Working Committee.

According to sources, the Gandhis wanted to give a free hand to the new Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge and not influence the decisions in any way. They will, however, attend the rest of the conclave that hopes to brainstorm for the 2024 national elections.

After back-to-back election defeats, years of internal wrangling for an overhaul and an exodus of leaders, Sonia Gandhi passed on the reins of the 137-year-old outfit to loyalist Mallikarjun Kharge in October. Considered the first family of the party, the Gandhis maintain a firm hold on it.

The gathering in Raipur will be the Congress's 85th plenary session. The party is expected to take key decisions during the three-day session that would lay out a roadmap for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and finalise the strategy for poll tie-ups with other opposition parties to take on the BJP.

At the steering committee meeting, which the Gandhis skipped, Congress leaders were expected to endorse the leadership of Mallikarjun Kharge and pave the way for a new working committee led by him.

Around 15,000 delegates will attend the session that comes in the wake of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, a massive cross-country foot march led by Rahul Gandhi that aimed to rally supporters and address the party's disconnect with the voters.

On the first day of the three-day session, the steering committee, which is standing in for the Working Committee after the previous one was dissolved during the leadership tradition, will decide whether there will be elections to the top decision-making body or not.

Asked whether polls will be held for the Congress Working Committee (CWC) seats, Congress general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh said on Thursday, "The steering committee will decide on it tomorrow. This matter will certainly come up during the steering committee meeting... I can't say anything about it today."

"But we are ready for the (CWC) polls, all preparations have been made. If the decision is in favour of the polls, then elections will take place," Mr Ramesh said at a press conference.

The Congress leader said following the meeting of the steering committee, there will be a meeting of the Subjects Committee at 4 pm the same day in which six resolutions will be considered.