Sonia Gandhi’s term as Congress President likely to be extended by a year

The Congress Working Committee is likely to extend party president Sonia Gandhi’s term by another year when it meets here on September 8. The current term of Sonia, who has been at the helm for 18 years, is expiring in December, sources in the party said. Party sources said Rahul Gandhi, who was elevated as vice president in January 2013, was not yet ready to take charge.

There was also the talk that any change in the leadership before the Bihar elections could prove counterproductive. Following Rahul’s return from a sabbatical a few months back the party was abuzz with talks about his likely elevation to the top post. However, the Congress’ central election authority had abruptly cancelled the election of the Congress president scheduled sometime in September-October. A senior leader said a proposal for extending Sonia’s term by a year would be moved at the meeting of the CWC, the party’s highest decision making body, and adopted.

The schedule for holding the next organisational elections, which could see Rahul’s elevation as Congress president, may be set in motion anytime next year. The CWC will deliberate on a host of issues to take on the Modi government, which it forced onto the back foot over the land bill and alleged wrongdoing by BJP leaders, including two chief ministers. The meeting comes days after the land ordinance was allowed to lapse as the government, facing stiff all-round resistance, decided not to re-promulgate it for the fourth time.

Besides, amendments to the party constitution for reducing the term of its national president from five to three years and organisational elections are also expected to be discussed at the CWC. Congress, at its December 2010 plenary in Delhi, had increased the term of its president from three to five years.

Party sources said the Narendra Modi government is likely to come under renewed attack over Congress’ pending demand for the resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje in the wake of the Lalit Modi controversy and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan over the Vyapam scam.

Congress leaders have been sharply critical of the “politics of confrontation” being allegedly espoused by BJP against the opposition both within and outside Parliament.