Rahul Gandhi to chair first CWC meeting as Congress president today

Rahul Gandhi will chair the Congress Working Committee meeting as party president. Although he has been part of the Congress’ highest policy- and decision-making body for a long time, this will be the first time that he will be presiding over the meet.

Since this meeting has been convened six days after Rahul officially took over the reigns of the Congress — succeeding his mother Sonia Gandhi, it is expected to begin with the members placing their confidence in their newly-elected president and eulogising his leadership for whatever it could achieve in the Gujarat Assembly election.

The other key issue that the CWC is expected to deliberate on (and perhaps come out with a resolution claiming vindication) is the party’s position on the 2G verdict. The party will likely yet again affirm its faith in former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s handling of matters pertaining to the issue.

Armed with the special CBI court’s verdict on the 2G scam, where the court acquitted all the accused, the Congress has already gone to the town claiming conspiracy and victimisation by the BJP. Manmohan too has spoken about the issue, patting his own back. The Congress will prefer not to consider the special CBI court’s indictment of the then PMO (Manmohan’s PMO).

But that’s the usual stuff for Congress or any political party that would hold an official meeting of a closed group of its senior leaders.

What would be of greater interest, at least politically, for the Congress and people outside is whether or not Sonia attends this meeting. What heightens curiosity over her presence or non-presence at the meeting is the fact that on the opening day of Parliament when she came face to face with the media after Rahul’s elevation as Congress president, Sonia had said “My role is now to retire”. That became major news, instantaneously sparking off debates about her retirement from politics.

Party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala then did something that rarely happens — he officially clarified, perhaps even contradicted part of what the party’s supreme leader had said. Surjewala went on record through a tweet:

The day Sonia announced her intentions to retire,it has noted that she didn’t clarify whether or not she was retiring from active politics, or if she was simply calling it quits from the day-to-day affairs of the Congress in order to let her 47-year-old son take full charge as Congress president and be the sole power centre in the party. She didn’t want any confusion in the minds of Congressmen and women, particularly among those from the older generations who looked up to her, for their continued relevance in the party.

If Sonia attends the CWC meeting, it will be first time in the past several decades that a former party president also sits in the meeting along with the new president — in this case, Sonia and Rahul respectively. Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi held the post of Congress president as long as they lived. PV Narasimha Rao and Sitaram Kesri filled in the slot from 1992 to 1998 when Sonia in the aftermath of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination was not prepared to get into active politics and become Congress president.

By not attending the meeting, Sonia will be sending a clear signal that she wants Rahul to be in full command and the centre of all attention, and let everyone know in party’s rank and file that he is now the sole authority and she is on a retirement mode.

Either way, Sonia will be scripting a fresh chapter in the Congress’ history when her son Rahul presides over the CWC meeting.

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