Election for the new Congress president will be held between August 21 and September 20 next year, party general secretary KC Venugopal said on Saturday. He made this announement at a press conference after the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting.
KC Venugopal said three resolutions--on the political situation, on inflation and on acute agrarian distress and diabolical attack on India's farmers--were passed during the CWC meeting.
"We're going for a massive training program from top to bottom. Workers & leaders at all levels will be trained in party ideologies, policies, expectations of a Congress worker, grassroots messaging, election mgmt, failure of present govt & countering propaganda," he added.
Meanwhile, in the CWC meeting, Sonia Gandhi asserted that she is a full-time, hands-on president. In a clear message to the G23 leaders, some of whom have raised issues regarding lack of leadership and absence of an elected party chief, Gandhi said she has always appreciated frankness and that "there is no need to speak to me through the media". "So, let us all have a free and honest discussion. But what should get communicated outside the four walls of this room is the collective decision of the CWC," she said in her opening remarks at the meeting.
The 74-year-old leader also pointed out that in the last two years, a large number of Congress leaders, particularly the younger ones, have taken on leadership roles in communicating party policies and programmes to the people. "Never have we let issues of public importance and concern go unaddressed. You are aware that I have been taking them up with the Prime Minister as have Dr Manmohan Singh and Rahul (Gandhi)ji. I have been interacting with like-minded political parties regularly," she said and added that the Opposition parties have issued joint statements on national issues and coordinated strategy in Parliament as well.
About the forthcoming assembly elections, the Congress chief said the party's preparations have already started a while back and asserted that though there were many challenges, "if we are united, disciplined and focus on the party's interests alone, I am confident that we will do well".
Besides, the CWC members appealed to Rahul Gandhi to take over as the president of the party. A proposal in this regard was mooted by Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and vetted by other Chief Ministers and leaders.
Senior Congress leader Ambika Soni said, "All the members were unanimous that Rahul Gandhi should take over as president of the Congress party."
(With inputs from PTI)