As the Congress grapples with questions on its workings raised by 23 senior leaders ahead of a crucial CWC meeting on Monday, messages of support for the Gandhi family have started coming in from various quarters in the party.
The letter by the 23 leaders, including the likes of Shashi Tharoor and Kapil Sibal, called for a “full time and effective leadership” which is both “visible” and “active” in the field; elections to the Congress Working Committee (CWC); and the urgent establishment of an “institutional leadership mechanism” to “collectively” guide the party’s revival.
Those now speaking out in support of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi include sitting Chief Ministers Ashok Gehlot, Bhupesh Baghel and Captain Amarinder Singh, along with state party chiefs like DK Shivakumar (Karnataka) and Ripun Bora (Assam).
While Congress Lok Sabha MP Manickam Tagore wrote to Sonia asking her to continue leading the party, more MPs are expected to write identical letters.
Congress Lok Sabha MP Manickam Tagore @manickamtagore writes to Sonia Gandhi asking her to continue leading the party. More Congress LS MPs expectes to write identical letters. @IndianExpress pic.twitter.com/qSLpXAT4Bw
— Manoj C G (@manojcg4u) August 23, 2020
Rajasthan CM Gehlot Sunday said he was “not aware of the letter” to Sonia, but the Gandhi family has kept the Congress united and in the present time of crisis, the party needs them.
“I am not aware of any such letter but if this is true, then it is unfortunate,” Gehlot told PTI. “They all have worked with the party for so long and the move of the letter is uncalled for. Sonia became the party president in 1998 in challenging circumstances and has been the saviour of the party. Today, despite her health issues, she is still holding the ‘Congress Kunba‘ (clan) united. Is it a small thing?” he added.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, in his statement, said there was a bid by “some Congress leaders” to “challenge” the Gandhi family leadership and argued this was not the time to raise such an issue, given the need for a strong opposition against the BJP-led NDA.
Significantly, he said that the NDA’s success was attributable to the absence of a strong and united Opposition – a sentiment expressed by the 23 leaders – but argued the move by “these Congress leaders to demand a rehaul of the party at this critical juncture would be detrimental to its interests, and the interests of the nation.”
The Chhattisgarh CM, in a letter to Rahul Gandhi, asked him not to be distracted by the “voices of disagreement” and take over the reins of the Congress party once again. Baghel said Sonia and Rahul are the only “ray of hope” for bringing the country out of the present crisis.
Pointing out that some leaders of the Congress have begun open discussions about “ideological disagreement”, he asked them to keep the party united since the party has a tradition of taking decisions after holding elaborate discussions in a democratic manner. He referred to Rahul’s spirited campaign in Gujarat and argued it was he who led the party to power in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury
Talking to The Indian Express, Chowdhury, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, said while non-Gandhis have been presidents of the party in the past, none of them could achieve significant success.
“I cannot subscribe to the views expressed by those honourable leaders…because failure is collective. Now…after the failure, some of our leaders are trying to heap all the allegations upon the Gandhi family and Rahul Gandhi. By doing that they are simply strengthening the argument made by the BJP. They are offering extra fodder to the BJP. The failure is a collective failure,” he said.
Former Union minister and Congress veteran K K Tewary said the letter was an “organised coup” by the BJP and promoted its agenda of ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’, reported PTI. Tewary said the Congress leaders who wrote the letter have never contested elections and have fallen into a trap laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
“This is an organised coup by the Modi-Shah duo and this only promoted their agenda of a Congress-mukt Bharat. This is part of the BJP-RSS plan to further weaken the Congress party,” Tewary told PTI.
Assam Congress President Ripun Bora said Rahul Gandhi should lead the Congress, as he was the “only leader PM Modi was scared of”. Bora was quoted by ANI as saying: “In an earlier video conference meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rajya Sabha MPs, I categorically appealed to Sonia Gandhi to give the leadership of Congress party to Rahul Gandhi as Narendra Modi is scared of Rahul Gandhi only.”
Stating his support for the Gandhi family, Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar said issues about the party should be raised on party fora and not in the media.
Entire Congress Party in Karnataka stands by the leadership of Smt. Sonia Gandhi and the Gandhi family.
Mrs. Gandhi has led the Congress during times of crisis and saved our party.
Anything that has to be discussed must be done so in the party forum and not in the media.
— DK Shivakumar (@DKShivakumar) August 23, 2020
“The entire Congress Party in Karnataka stands by the leadership of Smt. Sonia Gandhi and the Gandhi family. Mrs. Gandhi has led the Congress during times of crisis and saved our party. Anything that has to be discussed must be done so in the party forum and not in the media,” Shivakumar tweeted.
In a series of tweets, former Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath said he had been serving the Congress for nearly 40 years, and had had the privilege of working with Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. He said despite all the rumours against Sonia Gandhi, she had led the Congress to victory against Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2004. “The attack on Sonia Gandhi’s leadership is absurd. I appeal to her to continue leading the Congress,” Nath tweeted.
मुझे इंदिरा गांधी जी , संजय गांधी , राजीव गांधी, सोनिया गांधी और राहुल गांधी के साथ काम करने का सौभाग्य मिला है। मुझे लगभग 40 वर्षों तक , लंबे समय के रूप में संसद सदस्य के रूप में कांग्रेस पार्टी की सेवा करने का सौभाग्य मिला है।
— Office Of Kamal Nath (@OfficeOfKNath) August 23, 2020
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said Rahul Gandhi was the only Opposition leader “taking on the might” of the BJP government. “There is no opposition leader other than Rahul Gandhi who is taking on the might of this govt and lending his voice to the youth, farmers, tribals, small traders…the list is endless. My inspiration is Sonia Gandhi and My Leader Rahul Gandhi,” he tweeted.
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