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India defers Congress election over COVID-19 spike

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THE Congress Working Committee in India has unanimously decided today to defer the crucial election to the post of party president until the COVID-19 situation in the country improves.

  After a section of leaders had last year pressed for an organisational overhaul, the Congress had decided to hold elections for the new party president by June-end and its central election authority chaired by Madhusudan Mistry, proposed June 23 for the exercise.

  The CWC, the apex decision-making body of the Congress which met in the backdrop of the recent drubbing in four assembly polls, considered the schedule for electing the AICC president prepared by the party’s election authority.

  However, top Congress leaders at the meeting were of the view that holding the election right now would not be proper as the coronavirus situation in the country was very grim, sources said.

  Rajasthan Chief Minister, Ashok Gehlot proposed that there should be no election to the post of Congress president in view of the COVID-19 situation and senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad seconded him.

  Azad, a prominent member of the group of 23 leaders who had demanded organisational elections, said at the meeting that no one in the party was seeking an election right now and it should be postponed, the sources said.

  “In view of the nationwide emergent conditions prevailing on account of unprecedented Corona pandemic, the CWC was unanimous that all our energies should be channelised towards saving every life and helping every COVID-19 affected person.

  “CWC, therefore, unanimously resolved to defer the elections temporarily in the midst of these challenging times,” said a resolution passed at the meeting.

  Mistry had earlier proposed that the election be held on June 23 and counting on June 24. He proposed that the notification for the election be issued on June 1 and nominations be accepted between June 2 and 7.

  Asked till when the election has been deferred, Congress spokesperson, Randeep Surjewala said it had been put off temporarily till the next two-three months by when the situation is expected to improve.

  Sonia Gandhi took over as the interim Congress president in August 2019, after Rahul Gandhi resigned in the wake of the party’s Lok Sabha debacle in May 2019.

  There have been demands from a section of the Congress leaders for having a full-time and active party president and an organisational overhaul.

  A letter to Sonia Gandhi by a group of 23 leaders including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Bhupinder Hooda, Prithviraj Chavan, Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari and Mukul Wasnik, raising these issues had triggered a storm in the party in August last year.

  The CWC had in its meeting on January 22, decided that the process for electing a Congress president would be completed by June-end and had asked Mistry to prepare a schedule.

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