The bickering in the Congress over criticism of Rahul Gandhi’s core team intensified on Saturday with senior leader Digvijaya Singh, who is considered close to the Congress vice-president, taking on former union minister Milind Deora had blamed Rahul’s advisers for the poll debacle.
“Success has many fathers but failure is an orphan. The same people, who are now speaking out, were before May 16 very comfortable with all those whom they are speaking against now. They are young people. They have not seen defeat. So they will learn from the defeat,” Singh said, in an apparent attack on Deora. “I would not like to name the persons but some of these people, who are criticising now were on a regular email and SMS and direct contact with Rahul Gandhi.” His comments came after a meeting with Rahul.
Many senior leaders, including A K Antony, rallied behind the Nehru-Gandhi family. Antony said defeat or no defeat, Sonia and Rahul will continue to be the topmost leaders of the Congress and played down the rumblings in the party. “Sonia Gandhi is the final authority in the party. Rahul Gandhi is second in command,” he said.
Asked about demands for bringing Priyanka Vadra into the party, Antony said she is part of the Congress.
Outgoing Food Minister K V Thomas has demanded that Priyanka be given an effective role in the party. He has written to Sonia suggesting several ways to revive the party, including holding of elections from grassroots levels to the CWC, strengthening state leaderships and giving a role to Priyanka. “We should strengthen state leaderships. The central leadership should not intervene in everything that happens in the states and should only give guidance,” he told The Sunday Express. He said Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka should work as a team. “Priyanka should be part of the team. It does not mean replacing Rahul.”
Former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh too favoured a role for Priyanka. “We will be very happy if both (Rahul and Priyanka) work together in complimentary roles at a time when 70 per cent of India is below 40 years of age,” he said.
Joining the criticism of Deora, Youth Congress president Rajiv Satav said, “Surprised to see Milind Deora’s comments. Thought he was one of the closest to RG (Rahul Gandhi) or at least its what his friends in the media kept writing.”