Take the baton: Rahul Gandhi's impending elevation within Congress is long overdue

Congress president Sonia Gandhi party vice president Rahul Gandhi senior leader AK Antony and other party leaders at the Congress Working Committee meeting at 10 Janpath in New Delhi

The Congress Working Committee (CWC) met in New Delhi today and approved the schedule for the election of the next party president starting December 1, clearing the decks for Rahul to take over the reins of the party ahead of the crucial Gujarat Assembly polls.

After months of speculation, the stage is now set for Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi to take over as the party president from his mother Sonia Gandhi who has held the post for almost two decades.

Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of delaying the Winter Session of Parliament on "flimsy grounds", Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday said the government in its "arrogance" has cast a dark shadow on the country's Parliamentary democracy. "The government is mistaken if it thinks that by locking the temple of democracy, it will escape constitutional accountability ahead of the assembly elections in Gujarat", Gandhi said in her opening remarks. Polling for the two-phase election is to be held on December 9 and 14.

Once he becomes Congress chief, Mr. Gandhi faces the formidable challenge of reviving the party's sagging political fortunes.

December 15 has been decided as the date of elections for the post of Congress president. "It will always be available to not just Rahul-ji but also Congress men and women", he said. However, the incumbent Congress president is unwell and it's time she passed on the leadership baton.

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Gandhi cited unemployment, rising inflation, falling exports, demonetisation and GST as important factors to be discussed.

Meanwhile, the CWC formally initiated the process for electing a new president on Monday.

However, it is clear now that Rahul Gandhi will be Congress president before the Gujarat elections.

CWC meeting, which is the party's highest decision making body, started with the members passing a resolution condoling the demise of CWC member M L Fotedar, who was former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's personal secretary.

The Congress had earlier set a deadline to complete the organisational elections by October-end.

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