The Congress is planning to hold regular organisational elections after more than a decade. But the “first” such elections will have to wait until the 2014 general elections.
The demand for holding regular organisational elections in the party, instead of nominating candidates to different positions, was raised at the Chintan Shivir in Jaipur two weeks ago. Leaders exhorted Rahul Gandhi to hold elections in the main party, similar to those that have been held in its youth wings, the National Students Union of India and Indian Youth Congress, since 2008.
A party spokesperson admitted privately, “We will definitely be holding organisational elections in the main party.”
A Congress MP, who first gave his name and then backed out, said that there was a need for “systemising” and making the process of appointments in the organisation “non-arbitrary”.
The usual process for elections in the party is that Pradesh Congress Committee members elect members of the All India Congress Committee.
The AICC members in turn elect 12 members of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), while 11 are nominated by the Congress president.
Since Sonia Gandhi took over the reins of the organisation in 1998, elections for the positions in CWC have not been held. Mrs Gandhi herself has enjoyed a mostly unchallenged rule at the top as the president, except once when Jitendra Prasad contested against her.
The Election Commission mandates that political parties hold their internal elections regularly but the Congress has been taking the route of nominating members by consensus. The last time this happened was in 2010, when all the CWC members were nominated by Mrs Gandhi.
O.P. Mishra, general secretary of the West Bengal unit of the Congress, pointed out that since the term of members extends to four years, it is unlikely that the party would hold the elections before 2014.
The Congress MP added that the team, which will be formed after the organisational reshuffle, will soon lead the party to the next general elections, which negates the possibility of internal elections being held before 2014.
However, preparations for the same have begun. The party formed a committee earlier this week for suggesting measures for electoral reforms and political funding, headed by senior leader Ambika Soni and including Mani Shankar Aiyar.