India

Congress demands JPC on Arnab WhatsApp chat leak; party president to be elected by June

The Congress Working Committee (CWC) met Friday and passed resolutions on three issues of national importance, including farmers’ protest, coronavirus vaccine and WhatsApp chat leaks of journalist Arnab Goswami. The party also announced to hold polls for electing the new Congress president by June 2021.

Addressing a press conference, the party’s Central Election Authority headed by Madhusudan Mistry said the CWC has passed a resolution on farmers’ protest, saying the party would oppose the central government to take back the three new farm laws.

The party also adopted a resolution thanking the scientists for developing the Covid-19 vaccine in such a short period of time and appealed to the people to come forward for vaccination.

 Congress members protest outside Republic TV office in Mumbai.

Another resolution passed by the party demanded an investigation by a Joint Parliamentary Committee into the purported WhatsApp conversations between Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami and former CEO of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) Partho Dasgupta.

‘Shocking insensitivity’ shown by govt against farmers: Sonia Gandhi

In her opening remarks, interim party president Sonia Gandhi hit out at the government over a host of issues. She said there were “many pressing issues of public concern” that needed to be debated and discussed in the upcoming session of Parliament.

On the ongoing farmers’ agitation, she said the government had shown “shocking insensitivity and arrogance going through the charade of consultations”.

“It is abundantly clear that the three laws were prepared in haste and Parliament was consciously denied an opportunity for examining in any meaningful details their implications and impacts. Our position has been very clear from the very beginning: we reject them categorically because they will destroy the foundations of food security that are based on the three pillars of MSP, public procurement and PDS,” she said.

On the purported WhatsApp conversations between Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami and former CEO of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) Partho Dasgupta, she said there have been “very disturbing” reports on how national security was “thoroughly compromised”.

“Just a few days back, Antony-ji had said that leaking of official secrets of military operations is treason. Yet, the silence from the government’s side on what has been revealed has been deafening. Those who give certificates of patriotism and nationalism to others now stand totally exposed,” she said.

KEY DEMAND OF THE LETTER WRITERSWhile the Congress is set to announce the schedule for election of a new party president, it is to be seen whether the leadership will be willing to hold elections for the CWC, a demand made by the group of 23 leaders who had written to Sonia Gandhi. There is also suspense on what the letter-writers would do — would they field or back anyone for the post of party chief or contest themselves — if elections to the CWC are held.

She said vaccination of frontline health workers had begun, and the Congress hoped the process would be completed “to the fullest extent”.

“The government has inflicted untold suffering on the people of our country by the manner in which it has managed the Covid-19 pandemic. It will take years for the scars to heal,” she said.

On the economy, Gandhi said the situation remained grim and large parts of the economy, like the MSME and informal sectors, had been “decimated”.

“When public expenditure has to be carefully prioritised, it is very painful to find huge amounts of money being allocated and spent on initiatives that can only be described as ‘personal vanity projects’. Equally anguishing is the manner in which the government has weakened labour and environmental laws and its moving ahead with selling off of carefully built-up public assets. Panic privatisation has gripped the government and this is something that the Congress party can never accept and support,” she said.

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