Mallikarjun Kharge / Photo: PTI
Nava Raipur: The Congress steering committee on Friday unanimously decided to authorise party president Mallikarjun Kharge to nominate all members of the working committee, the party's highest decision making body.
Congress general secretary, communications, Jairam Ramesh said the committee freely discussed the matter of CWC elections and almost all 45 members present unanimously decided to authorise the Congress president to nominate members.
Several members expressed their views both in favour and against the polls to CWC, he told reporters.
"We are fully confident that all AICC and PCC delegates will support this unanimous decision," he said.
Ramesh said the plenary will also decide on bringing 16 amendments to 32 rules and regulations of the party's constitution.
"All former prime ministers of the Congress party and former presidents will be given representation in the Working Committee," he said, giving details of amendments to be brought about in the constitution of the party.
Earlier, Kharge urged steering committee members to freely express themselves and take a collective call on the process of picking CWC members.
The steering committee started discussions at the beginning of the 85th plenary session here and approved the agenda for the three-day conclave, sources said.
Former presidents Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have skipped the meeting and are likely to arrive here later in the day. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is also not present at the steering committee meet.
In his inaugural address, Kharge said on the CWC elections, "As Congress president I want to just urge you to express yourself freely and take a decision collectively. Whatever decision you take, that will be my decision and of everyone."
The CWC has a total of 25 members, including the Congress president and the leader of the Congress in Parliament, besides 12 elected members and 11 nominated ones.
The tradition in the party has been to have a consensus body and the committee gives the right to the Congress president to have a body of his choice to avoid any divisions.
In his opening remarks, the Congress chief said the plenary session is being held at a time when democracy and the Constitution are "under threat" and parliamentary institutions are facing serious crisis and political activities being being put under scrutiny.
He said since 1885, there have been 84 sessions of the Congress party and this convention is very special as it marks 100 years since Mahatma Gandhi was elected the Congress president.
Several historic decisions have been taken at different plenary sessions and some have been milestones, he added.
As deliberations began for the crucial decision of CWC elections, members were equally divided on holding of elections and some saying CWC should be nominated.
He also urged members to make this session historic too so that Nava Raipur is remembered in the party's history.
He also recalled the success of the Bharat Jodo Yatra under whose backdrop this session is being held. The yatra has infused a fresh energy in the party's rank and file and has highlighted issues of price rise, unemployment and economic issues and created awareness about them.
"We have to carry forward that enthusiasm," he said.
Kharge said this session is being held in Chhattisgarh ahead of assembly elections in half a dozen states and the 2024 parliamentary elections.
"There is a big challenge as well as a big opportunity before us," he noted.
The Congress chief said the party's constructive message should reach the party's rank and file across the country and infuse a fresh energy in every worker even in villages so that they reach out to the common people and help win their confidence.
"Whatever decision we take, that will lay the strong foundation of our party's future from Kanyakumari to Kashmir," he said.
Kharge said this session is being held at a time when there are serious challenges before the country and the Constitution and democracy are under threat.
Parliamentary institutions are facing a serious crisis and political activities are being put under scrutiny, he said.
"In this context, we have to take forward our thoughts because all eyes are on this conclave," he said.
The Congress president said the party's constitution enables the CWC to turn into the steering committee and the process of putting in place the new CWC will be completed before the next meeting.
Kharge said four issues are before the steering committee meeting, which includes the election to the CWC and finalising the agenda for the 85th plenary session.
The steering committee will also take a call on bringing the amendments to the party constitution.
There will also be a discussion on the six resolutions to be adopted at the session.
The resolutions would be on political, economic, international affairs, farmers and khet mazdoor, social justice and youth empowerment. PTI