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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Congress to letter signatories: ‘Making public comments inappropriate after party chief’s call to move on’

The statement from the Congress came as some party leaders continued to speak on the issue publicly. There has been turmoil within the Congress ever since 23 senior leaders sent a letter to Sonia Gandhi, calling for sweeping changes.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 30, 2020 11:38:17 pm
Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Sonia Gandhi and Kapil Sibal. (Express File Photo)

In a message to the signatories of the unprecedented letter to Sonia Gandhi, which triggered a turmoil in the party, the Congress on Sunday said it is inappropriate for any leader to publicly comment on internal matters of the party after its interim president had called for moving on collectively in a recent Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, in which discussions on the leadership issue were held.

The reaction from the Congress came as some party leaders continued to make statements in public on the issue after 23 senior leaders of the Congress sent a letter to Gandhi calling for sweeping changes in the party like having a “full time and effective leadership” which is both “visible” and “active” in the field; elections to the CWC; and the urgent establishment of an “institutional leadership mechanism” to “collectively” guide the party’s revival.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the party needs to move forward collectively in the direction and manner suggested by its President Sonia Gandhi during the seven-hour long CWC meeting. He stated that he was not speaking about individuals, individual press conferences or about reports.

“It is a free country. Nobody is censored to speak or not to speak,” Singhvi said, news agency PTI reported.

“But, let me make one thing clear, we had a marathon discussion on diverse issues for seven hours and at the end of which, the Congress president clearly said that we discussed it openly like a family and we now should look to the future, and the momentum and the directions should be to the future. We have to move together forgetting the bygones,” he told reporters while speaking on the public comments made by some leaders.

“Once the Congress president has said so, I think that letter and spirit must be observed in every way,” Singhvi said. “I don’t think it is appropriate after that for me or anyone else to comment, be it to be in the centre of press, be it to be in the headlines or not,” he said.

Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, one of the signatories of the letter, in an interview to The Indian Express on Saturday pointed out that not one of the concerns they had raised was either addressed — or even shared — at the CWC meeting and rued that no leader stepped in when the rebel leaders were attacked.

Sibal said the CWC should have been apprised of what the letter said. “That is the fundamental thing that should have happened. This is what these 23 people have written. If you find fault with any of what we have written, then, surely, we can be questioned and we should be questioned.”

He maintained that Congress needs a “de jure and a de facto president” and the concerns outlined in the letter should be addressed at the earliest.

While the letter was not discussed, “in the course of the (CWC) meeting we were called traitors and nobody sitting in that meeting including the leadership told them that this is not the kind of language” used in the Congress. “Our letter…every part of it was expressed in very civilised language,” he said.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, while justifying the move to write to the Congress chief, said it was in the party’s interest to hold elections to the CWC (the party’s highest-decision making body) and bring the suggested changes, “otherwise the Congress will keep sitting in the opposition for the next 50 years”.

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