The lot of Congress leaders who were looking for reform within the party tyo take on the BJP as a political force are not giving up the battle yet even though the Gandhis and their loyalists tried to question their loyalty and voiced suspicion on their design to help the ruling party. In fact, the group of 23 dissenting leaders may meet over the weekend to plan their future strategy.
After the stormy Congress Working Committee (CWC) session over a letter written by a group of dissenters, the issue has certainly not died down. The suspension in dissent is only on a small, temporary break. Sources within the dissenters’ group say that the grand old party cannot be run like a “proprietorship” and it must transform into a vibrant political party.
“There is no issue of the president. Anybody can become the president even Rahul Gandhi, but it cannot run like it’s running today, akin to a proprietorship” said one of the signatories on condition of anonymity.
Party leaders are divided on the issue of taking on the first family of the party as a section of the group says that they should wait for the timeframe given by the working committee even as the majority of dissenters say that we should keep on pressing the issue, sources said.
The group is also miffed that the issues which have been flagged have not been discussed at all in the Congress Working Committee meeting or otherwise, though Rahul Gandhi has reached out to party veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad and Sonia, too, called him, the group has not kept quiet on the issues. Senior leader Anand Sharma said, “If calling for introspection is rebellion, then I have done it,” he told a group of media persons on Wednesday.
The party leaders say that even after two consecutive defeats there hasn’t been any brainstorming session on the causes of defeat and on moving forward when the party is facing tough challenges from the BJP.
The Congress officially maintains that anybody who still has a problem can speak with Sonia Gandhi. “She had heard all the voices of dissent and wanted to take everybody along. She has already communicated that she has no ill-will towards anybody,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said on Thursday when asked about the rebellion during a press conference.
The stormy CWC meeting held last Monday witnessed Sonia Gandhi offering to quit and Rahul Gandhi questioning the timing of a letter by the ‘dissenters’, as the party working committee decided that Sonia will continue till arrangements were made.
The CWC was held after 23 Congress leaders wrote a letter for “visible leadership” in the party and said the party leadership should take everybody along and put up a serious challenge to the BJP.
The letter lamented that the “party is declining and unable to confront the rise of the BJP in the country”.
The party leaders insisted that the country is facing grave challenges from the economic recession, the pandemic, and border tensions with China in Ladakh.
The leaders wanted elections from block-level upward to the level of the CWC. Elections in the CWC were discontinued after Sonia Gandhi took charge and the nomination system was adopted for the highest decision-making body in the party. The revival of the parliamentary board is also sought by these leaders.
The party leaders want proper discussions in the CWC and the Congress Parliamentary Party meetings. In the letter, it has been emphasised that instead of reactions, Congress should set the political agenda and alternate narrative to counter the BJP.
More than a week after the letter bomb stoked controversy in the Congress Working Committee meeting, where the dissenters were cornered by the loyalists, the issue has not died down as the dissenters are now speaking publicly. The Congress on Thursday reacted and said that those still nursing a grudge could speak to Sonia Gandhi.
The dissenters are said to be unhappy because the contents of the letter were not discussed at the meeting, and, instead, the signatories were targeted on the timing of the letter. They are demanding an introspection by the party.
Reacting to the reports, Congress Chief Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “After Sonia Gandhi has listened to all the voices of dissent and said that she is willing to take everybody along, but, still if somebody has a problem they can go and talk to the Congress President”.
“The CWC urges and advises all concerned to raise such issues only in party fora in the interest of propriety and discipline,” Congress leader K. C. Venugopal had said while reading out the resolution.
The CWC had authorised the Congress Interim President to effect the “necessary organisational changes” that she may deem appropriate to take on the emerging challenges.
“In the light of the above deliberations and conclusions, the CWC unanimously requests Sonia Gandhi to continue to lead the Congress until such time as circumstances will permit an AICC session to be convened,” the CWC resolution said.
After the letter row, Sonia Gandhi had offered to quit the top post. However, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urged her to continue as the party chief.
The party resolution also said that it had taken note of the letter of the Congress chief as also a letter written earlier by certain Congress leaders to Sonia Gandhi. (IANS)