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Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Tharoor backs Sandeep Dikshit over remarks on next Congress chief, Nirupam disagrees

Speaking to The Indian Express, Sandeep Dikshit had accused senior leaders of failing to find a new president after all these months because they are “scared who will bell the cat”.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: February 20, 2020 2:15:44 pm
After Sandeep Dikshit targets Congress leadership over president post, Tharoor, Nirpuam appeal for elections Congress leaders Sanjay Nirupam and Shashi Tharoor. The two leaders Thursday called for elections to pick a party president. (Express File Photo: Ganesh Shirsekar)

Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor and Sanjay Nirupam Thursday made contrasting statements as they reacted to former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s son and ex-MP Sandeep Dikshit’s remarks to The Indian Express targeting the leadership over the party presidency. Dikshit accused senior leaders of failing to find a new president after all these months because they were “scared who will bell the cat”.

Tharoor said Dikshit’s remarks reflected what “dozens of party leaders are saying privately” and appealed to the Congress Working Committee — the highest decision-making body of the party — to hold elections. Nirupam, on the other hand, countered Tharoor saying Rahul Gandhi was the only leader who could be at the helm.

“What Sandeep Dikshit said openly is what dozens of party leaders from across the country are saying privately, including many with responsible positions in the party. I renew my appeal to CWC to hold leadership elections to energise workers and inspire voters.

“Some have asked who should vote and for what. I was referring to my earlier call eight months ago for elections among the 10,000 party workers who constitute the “AICC plus PCC delegates” list. These should be for the elected seats in the CWC as well as for the party presidency,” Tharoor added.

Nirupam responded to Tharoor’s call for elections, saying Rahul Gandhi was the “only leader” who could “save the party.” He tweeted: “It’s inane discussion. No one from outside the family can lead Congress at this juncture. Rahul Gandhi is the only leader who can lead the party and can save it. Other leaders are just a group leader and such leaders at the helm will encourage more groupism. Period!”

Earlier this week, former Union minister Manish Tewari, in an interview to The Indian Express, argued that the party needs to think about reorienting its economic philosophy which continues to be “fairly socialistic” and bring clarity on the question of secularism and its brand of nationalism.

The “leadership question” within the Congress resurfaced after the party failed to win a single seat in the recent Delhi Assembly elections. Leaders blamed the loss on several reasons including lack of leadership, dwindling party cadre, infighting, and lack of strategy, among other things.

Sonia Gandhi was elected interim president of the Congress in August 2019, months after Rahul Gandhi resigned from the post following the party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections.

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