Former Union minister Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday came under scathing attack from top Congress leaders for his remarks that the party was facing an “existential crisis” and that “the Sultanate has gone, but we behave as if we are sultans still”. Former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit asked Ramesh “aren’t you a part of the sultans”, while former Union minister M Veerappa Moily said that such statements can be made only by those who have not “undergone the pain and agony of working in the Congress and only enjoyed the pleasure of power”.
“A few Congress leaders who came through the back doors, enjoyed the fruits of power and occupied high positions in the Congress governments feel that the Congress is facing an existential crisis as the party is out of power in the Centre and most states,” former Union minister K V Thomas said.
Moily told The Indian Express that Ramesh had “grossly crossed the limits of discipline in the party” and that the “party should have zero tolerance for indiscipline”. “We have toiled for this party for the last 50 years and we know what it is… the pain, pain of the leadership and pain of the workers… rank and file. And people who have not undergone the pain and agony… of working in the Congress and only enjoyed the pleasure of power, only they can make such statements.”
Asked whether he was suggesting that action be taken against Ramesh, Moily said, “That is a different matter. It is for the appropriate persons to decide. I don’t think it can be tolerated. The party should have zero tolerance for indiscipline.” Dikshit told The Indian Express: “I just want to ask him, aren’t you a part of the sultans? Isn’t Jairam Ramesh a part of the sultans?” She, however, agreed with Ramesh that the Congress was facing a crisis. “The Congress has seen many ups and downs. When you have an up, you are bound to come down for some time and then go up again. This is not the first time the Congress has seen a crisis like this… Yes, we must do something to correct it. But not just make a comment about it,” she said.
She agreed that “all crises are not similar” but “we will overcome this also”. “There is definitely a crisis because we came up with so few seats in the Lok Sabha elections, for instance… You have to recognise that and do something about it instead of being a part of it and saying there is a crisis. We must all collectively sit down and correct it,” she said.
Asked how she proposed to correct it, Dikshit said, “How can I tell you unless we talk about it… I think collectively we should come out with a solution.” Thomas, a Lok Sabha MP, took a jibe at Ramesh: “Congressmen who started their career from booth-level committees and worked their way up are always with the Congress and the people, whether in power or not. For genuine Congressmen people are the power… Not like the backdoor entrants who ditch the Congress when out of power, genuine Congressmen believe politics is to help people and the future of India is definitely with the Congress and Rahul (Gandhi).”