A year after the Congress’s debilitating debacle in the Lok Sabha elections, months after its exit in Madhya Pradesh and right in the middle of the ongoing crisis in Rajasthan, the tension between veterans and young leaders is coming to a head.Sparks flew at a meeting of its Rajya Sabha MPs convened by Congress president Sonia Gandhi Thursday.
Sources said former Union Minister and senior leader Kapil Sibal spoke about the need for “introspection” on the defeat. Former Union Minister P Chidambaram said the party should reach out to people to understand their disenchantment with the Congress. It is learnt that newly elected Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Satav was more blunt — he said introspection should begin at home.
Old guard versus new
Rajeev Satav’s swipe underlines the trust deficit between the old and the new and the sense of vacuum at the top. Bhopal to Jaipur, these are cleaving the Congress but there are few signs of any move to arrest the drift.
“Introspect by all means…. but how did we come to 44…that should also be looked into. We were 200-plus in 2009. You are all saying this (need to introspect) now. You were all ministers then. Frankly, it should also be looked into where you failed. You have to introspect from the UPA II period,” an MP quoted Satav as having said during the virtual meeting.
Satav, 46, a former Youth Congress president, is the AICC in-charge of Gujarat and a permanent invitee to the CWC.
Satav’s remarks came in the presence of the key figures in UPA II.
While Gandhi was chairing the meeting, in attendance were former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ahmed Patel and former UPA ministers Chidambaram, A K Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma besides Sibal. Some of the leaders interpreted Satav’s remarks as an attack against them.
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The meeting also saw a demand for Rahul Gandhi to be brought back as Congress president. Sources said senior leader Digvijaya Singh made the demand and found support from Satav, Assam Congress chief Ripun Bora, AICC general secretary Shaktisinh Gohil and Neeraj Dangi.
The demand for Rahul’s return had come up at the meeting of the last CWC and a meeting Sonia Gandhi had with Lok Sabha MPs earlier this month.
Sources said Punjab MP and veteran party leader Shamsher Singh Dullo hit back at the young Turks saying “people with seniority are being ignored” and “sycophants are being rewarded.” He said the veterans built the party with their blood and toil and not the young leaders. “Sycophancy prevails in the party and promotion and posts are being given in the party based on liking and not on merit and seniority,” Dullo said.
Sources said Punjab MP and former state Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa said the party should hit the streets. “You will have to send your cadres to every nook and corner of India. They will have to fight the BJP government on the streets. It cannot be done on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook….” Bajwa is learnt to have said.
Senior leader Abhishek Singhvi said the party, instead of a shoot-and-scoot approach, should wage a sustained campaign against what he called was the current subversion of democratic, parliamentary and constitutional institutions.
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