The Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Tuesday approved the proposal to extend term of party president Sonia Gandhi by one year and also decided to increase reservation for weaker sections including scheduled castes and minorities in the party from 20 percent to 50 percent.
At its meeting at the party headquarters here, the working committee, the party's highest decision-making body, decided on a series of significant amendments to its constitution including bringing back practice of active membership, inclusion of electronic membership and reducing term of members and office-bearers from five years to three years.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said that the amendments had been approved by the working committee but the changes made in the constitution will take time to be implemented.
The CWC approved the proposal to extend term of all the committees including the All India Congress Committee and the Pradesh Congress Committees by one year. The party will now hold organisational elections before the end of 2016.
Reaching out to sections which have been strong supporters of the party in the past, the party decided to increase reservation for the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, women, minorities and other backward classes to 50 percent.
Gandhi, in her speech at the start of CWC meeting, had called upon the party to give them greater say to weaker sections in the party.
"As a party we have always championed the rights of the marginalized sections of society such as women, adivasis, dalits, minorities and OBCs. It is only through affirmative action that we will guarantee greater say in the working of our party to these sections of society," she said.
The term of Gandhi, who has been at the helm for 17 years, was to end in December this year.
There had been demands within the party earlier that party vice president Rahul Gandhi should be elevated as the president but the party appears to have decided to make the change at an appropriate time later.
Rahul Gandhi was elevated as vice president in January 2013 and has been aggressively taking on the Narendra Modi government on a range of issues over the past few months since his return from a sabbatical.
Sonia Gandhi, who took over reigns of Congress in 1998, is already the longest serving president of the party.
The party will now write to the Election Commission informing it that it will complete the process of organisational elections by the end of next year.
The CWC meeting comes weeks ahead of the crucial assembly elections in Bihar where the Congress will contesting 40 seats, in alliance with the Janata Dal-United and Rashtriya Janata Dal.
There has been talk in the party that any change in leadership before the Bihar elections would not be appropriate as the election was tough and there was no certainty about party's prospects.