In an unusual move, the Congress party has scheduled a general body meeting of the CPP (Congress Parliamentary Party) on Friday morning, which falls bang in the middle of the ongoing winter session of Parliament.
Such party meetings to be addressed by the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, are held either in the beginning of the session or at the end. And of late, the meetings have become few and far between where no one but the Congress president speaks. Sonia Gandhi is the chairperson of the CPP while Rahul Gandhi holds no post in the CPP.
Sonia Gandhi after an infection and fever returned last night from Sir Ganga Ram Hospital where she had been admitted. A senior leader says it looks highly unlikely that she would be addressing the CPP as she has not fully recovered.
The question being asked is whether the meeting has been called so that Congress vice-president Rahul
Gandhi, who incidentally is not the deputy leader of the CPP, can address the party MPs of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha?
But sources say such technical niceties have never bothered the Congress leadership. In this instance, the aim appears to be to give yet another push to Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, this time in the party’s parliamentary forum.
It may be recalled that less than a month ago, a rare meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the apex decision making body of the Congress, was convened to discuss the party’s organisational elections and that they be postponed by a year.
Sonia Gandhi was not present at the meeting and instead Rahul Gandhi as the party’s vice president and effective number two presided over the meeting. Here a push was made by senior leader and former defence minister A K Antony to make Rahul Gandhi the party president in place of Sonia Gandhi. A move which did not find too many takers among the senior leadership, say top sources in the party though publicly it was made out that the matter had the unanimous and unequivocal support of the entire CWC.
What is, however, a matter of greater interest is that Sonia Gandhi was not even present at 10 Janpath or even in Delhi when the CWC meeting took place. She was on a quiet visit to Goa, since the pollution and fog of Delhi was interfering with her breathing and worsening her asthmatic condition.
There again, the question was asked within the Congress party whether the CWC meeting was held simply to project Rahul Gandhi’s leadership through the back door.
For the last many years, Sonia Gandhi had virtually discontinued the practice of convening CWC meetings. They were merely called when a senior leader died and obituary references had to be made.
During the 10 years of the UPA government, the CWC was sidelined and all the brain storming and decision making was confined to the core committee where a handful of leaders deliberated on every issue under the sun, said a senior CWC member who has been upset for long at the manner in which the CWC has been made a redundant body.