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Sonia Gandhi sets up panel to formulate Congress' response to critical issues

The 21-member “committee on important issues”, which will meet under the chairpersonship of the Congress chief, comprises veterans as well as young faces of the party.

Oct 23, 2019, 11.35 AM IST
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PTI
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The panel is reminiscent of the “core group” which was put in place during the UPA government in which key members discussed every issue before taking a decision.
(This story originally appeared in on Oct 23, 2019)
NEW DELHI: Congress president Sonia Gandhi has formed a committee of leaders to deliberate on important issues for enabling the party to come up with reasoned and well thought-out responses to social and political moves of the Narendra Modi government, which hog headlines.

Sources said the 21-member “committee on important issues”, which will meet under the chairpersonship of the Congress chief, comprises veterans as well as young faces of the party. It is possible that the group would meet regularly or once a month for brainstorming. Significantly, party members contacted claimed it was an “informal committee”.

Among the consequential issues to come up in near future is Ayodhya in which the Supreme Court is set to pronounce its judgment. Also, Uniform Civil Code and subjects like the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) are also in currency.

In the face of an onslaught of provocative decisions and announcements of the BJP government, the principal opposition party has appeared clueless, seemingly guided more by kneejerk reactions than a well thrashed out political line.

This dissonance was on display during the recent revocation of special status of Jammu & Kashmir through the dilution of Article 370. While the party came out strongly against it, key Congress leaders broke from the official stance and backed the government initiative.

When the differences became public, party leaders chafed at an absence of discussion and argued that a nuanced approach, critical of the manner in which Article 370 was diluted without appearing to oppose it in principle, would have been better. Nuancing is the order of the day, with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaking along those lines during the Maharashtra election campaign last week in what appeared a course correction.

The panel is reminiscent of the “core group” which was put in place during the UPA government in which key members discussed every issue before taking a decision.

Importantly, Congress has also formed a dedicated committee on the National Register of Citizens, apparently to steer the party response in coming days. It comprises leaders of north-eastern states.

The controversial issue in Assam has seen many twists and turns but may flare up now, with the list of those to be excluded public. While its fervent champion BJP has been rattled by large-scale exclusion of members of the Hindu community, it is now planning the CAB to grant citizenship to Hindu refugees.

Congress has been supporting the NRC while arguing that no genuine Indian be left out of it. But it now has to evolve a stance on the controversial issue of proposed “stateless citizens” and about CAB which the north-eastern states are against.

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