In the face of the charges made in former Congressman Natwar Singh’s book, loyalists in the party have hit back. They “anticipate more such attacks, especially personal attacks and on the family. It’s a long road ahead,” said Rajiv Satav, one of the party’s two MPs from Maharashtra, president of the Indian Youth Congress and said to be close to Rahul Gandhi. “These attacks aimed at the family in the Congress are actually aimed at slowly taking away the Congress’s USP, to demoralise the party worker and diminish our core strength and appeal.”
Satav said the party has now decided to “fully adopt the agitational mode, on all issues that impact the common man. Each Tuesday, in our meetings with party MPs, while Madam is also there, it is Rahul Gandhi who provides us with constant guidance and leads from the front”. He told The Indian Express that the challenge is to “get back the young Indian, especially those born after 1992 who did not even know Rajiv Gandhi, into the fold and explain what the Congress means”.
“Those within the party now being so analytical and critical of the Congress leadership, I only want to ask why they were quiet for a decade and enjoying being in power. To blame Rahul Gandhi for the recent defeat is wrong, as he was the only one who actually went out, stuck his neck out and campaigned for the party. Others seemed to have given up, or expected him alone to do all the work,” he said.
He added: “We are very clear that whenever the Congress has suffered setbacks, our leadership has been targeted, whether in 1977 with Indira Gandhi being harassed with the Shah Commission, or in 1999 with basic questions being raised regarding Sonia Gandhi — now it is Rahul Gandhi’s turn to be in the line of fire — as part of a calculated design by those in power. Each time, the party fought back and emerged stronger.”
He described the new government “that wanted to control everything” as “a Twitter sarkar”, where “the PM has already done his best to undermine all institutions — he criticised the Election Commission before his election, and now hardly visits Parliament, is keen to control the judiciary, and also undermine the opposition by trying to ensure our leaders get ridiculed… But we see this hour of defeat as a golden opportunity to rebuild”.
Preparations are on for the national executive of the Youth Congress this week, seen as a laboratory for Rahul’s ideas to “democratise” the party. The party has stressed that despite sections being critical of the “democratisation” drive, it would go down that road and complete the process.