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Chidambaram says half of CWC should be elected as per Cong constitution; bats for younger leaders' inclusion

Chidambaram says half of CWC should be elected as per Cong constitution; bats for younger leaders inclusion

New Delhi: Days ahead of the Congress' crucial plenary session, senior leader P Chidambaram on Monday said half of the CWC members should be elected as per the AICC constitution and batted for younger leaders' inclusion in the party's top decision-making body.

In an exclusive interview with PTI, Chidambaram said he has learnt that there are issues about the strength of the electoral college that will elect the Congress Working Committee (CWC) which must be resolved by the party's poll panel.

The former Union minister asserted that an objective analysis of the political situation will lead to the conclusion that the Congress has to be the "pole" around which Opposition unity in the 2024 Lok Sabha election can be built.

Asked whether he believes that elections to the party's highest decision-making body CWC were essential, Chidambaram said, "My personal view is that one-half of the CWC should be elected as per the Constitution of the party."

"However, I learn there are issues about the strength of the electoral college that will elect the CWC.These issues must be resolved by the election commission of the party," he said.

On whether he would contest if the CWC polls take place or was he expecting a nomination to the party body, he said, "I have no expectations or personal ambitions. I think younger members must be elected and nominated to the CWC."

The organs of the party should also reflect the diversity of the country and the party, added Chidambaram, who is currently a member of the steering committee that was set up by party chief Mallikarjun Kharge to function till the time a CWC is elected.

Asked how far would CWC polls be free with the AICC delegates picked by the leadership, the senior Congress leader said he does not agree with the observation that the electoral college was "picked" by the current leadership.

"The list of PCC members of each state was finalised at the state level by the state leadership.Each PCC had also recommended the slate of AICC delegates.I believe that the AICC leadership took into account the recommendations and finalised the list of members of the AICC," Chidambaram said.

It was a consultative and collective effort, he asserted and added that if there are any shortcomings, those are also a shared and collective responsibility.

Congress general secretary organisation K C Venugopal has said the party's steering committee would meet in Chhattisgarh's Raipur on the first day of the session, on February 24, and decide whether elections would be held for the CWC.

According to the party constitution, the working committee shall consist of the president of the Congress, the Leader of the Congress Party in Parliament and 23 other members of whom 12 members will be elected by the AICC, as per rules prescribed by the working committee and the rest shall be appointed by the president.

Talking about the upcoming Raipur session, Chidambaram noted that it is being held when the Lok Sabha elections are due in about 14 months, and said that it is widely expected that the AICC will issue a clarion call that will convince the people on why it is imperative that there should be a change of government at the national level.

"We must also produce a document that will address the aspirations of the people for a peaceful, prosperous and equitable country," he stressed.

Asked if the Congress has to be the fulcrum of any Opposition alliance to take on the BJP in 2024 elections, Chidambaram said there is a growing realisation that the Opposition parties must forge a united front in order to take on the BJP.

Each party has its own strength and brings to the table a certain value, he noted.

There is also an acknowledgement that barring the Congress all other Opposition parties are single-state parties, he said.

"I think an objective analysis of the political situation will lead to the conclusion that the Congress has to be the pole around which Opposition unity in the Lok Sabha election can be built. All parties, including the Congress, must approach the task with a spirit of give-and-take and of humility," Chidambaram asserted.

On the current difficulties in forging Opposition unity, he said each party is entitled to protect its interests in an election to the state legislature.

"We are concerned about Opposition unity in an election to the Lok Sabha. Each party must discard its state-level lens and wear an all-India lens. I hope the Congress' leaders as well as leaders like Mr Sharad Pawar, Mr Nitish Kumar, Mr Sitaram Yechury and Mr (MK) Stalin can impress upon all parties to approach the election to the Lok Sabha with a new perspective," he told PTI.

Chidambaram also said that the Kanyakumari to Kashmir Bharat Jodo Yatra undoubtedly has established Rahul Gandhi as a leader with grit, determination and perseverance, and it has also awakened the people to recognise that the country is faced with huge problems, economic and social.

It has challenged the hegemony that the BJP has sought to acquire through various means, Chidambaram said, adding he does not think that the Yatra was intended to reap narrow electoral gains.

Chidambaram, who is chairing the party's sub-group on economic affairs for the plenary session, said the starting point for the panel will be the current world economic situation and the current Indian economic situation.

The Congress strongly disagrees with the government's glowing and self-serving assessment of the economic situation, he said.

"We will draw extensively from the conclusions arrived at the Udaipur Conclave. Inputs have been obtained from all the members of the sub-committee. I have requested the Convenor of the sub-committee, Dr Gourabh Vallabh, to make a draft of the resolution," Chidambaram said.

The 85th plenary session of the party will be held in Raipur in Chhattisgarh from February 24 to 26. The agenda for the three-day session of the party would be finalised in the steering committee meeting to be held on the first day and thereafter, the subjects committee will give final shape to the resolutions to be adopted.

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