Amid a war of words in the Congress triggered by Milind Deora’s attack on Rahul Gandhi’s core team of advisers, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi Saturday stepped in, calling for an end to the “public acrimony” but accepted the party could not gauge the “wide-spread anger” against it. The party, on its part, rallied behind the Nehru-Gandhi family, electing Sonia as chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP), saying it will “regroup, rebuild and revive” under Sonia and Rahul’s leadership.
The CPP, which met for the first time after the elections, passed a resolution expressing gratitude to both Sonia and Rahul for their “indefatigable election campaign across the country” and asserted “electoral setbacks cannot obscure their contributions”.
Like the Congress Working Committee, the CPP too lavished praise on outgoing PM Manmohan Singh for providing “wise, sober and dignified leadership for a decade” besides Sonia and Rahul, absolving them of any blame.
Sonia told the newly elected MPs to participate in a soul-searching exercise and, referring to the rumblings in the party, said “your inputs, your experience and your assessment of our strengths and weaknesses — rather than public acrimony — will be critical to that exercise”.
Sonia also indicated the party will be an aggressive opposition and reached out to parties in the opposition for floor coordination to take on the Narendra Modi government. “We can and will work together with like-minded parties to strengthen the watchful role of the parliamentary opposition,” she said.
The CPP resolution was more to the point as it hoped “all progressive and secular forces in Parliament will coordinate their strategies effectively so as to present a united and cohesive opposition”.
Sonia said the UPA government did not get the support of the main opposition and some other parties in passing crucial legislations. “In fact, opposition to some bills was not based on any principle or argument, but simply on cussedness and outright political opportunism… The legislative agenda that we placed before the 15th Lok Sabha remains pending and cannot be ignored. We shall wait and see what will be the attitude of the new government on the pending bills,” she said at the meeting, which ended in about 20 minutes.
There is still no word on who will be the Leaders of the Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. While the CPP authorised Sonia to decide on the Leaders of the Opposition, a strong view is emerging in the party that either she or Rahul should occupy the post in the Lower House.