A day after Congress president Sonia Gandhi carried out a reshuffle of the party organisation and recast the Congress Working Committee (CWC), Kapil Sibal, senior Congress leader and one of the 23 signatories of the recent letter to Sonia, calling for sweeping changes in the party, speaks with The Sunday Express about the shake-up. He contends that if the party thinks elections are anathema then it might as well change its Constitution.
Sonia Gandhi has carried out a reshuffle of the organisation. How do you see it?
I cannot really comment on the changes. All I can say is that a lot of thought must have gone into it. The future trajectory of the Congress party must have been kept in mind to ensure that in the next (Lok Sabha) election, instead of 52 seats we reach the figure of 272. I will be delighted if that happens.
In the letter to the Congress president, you and the other senior leaders had demanded that elections be held from booth level to that of the CWC. That demand has not been met immediately, although a central election authority has been set up.
That is what the constitution of the Congress party says. We asked for nothing more than what the (party) constitution provides for. The Congress must have decided in its wisdom that elections are not necessary from the block upwards. What we wanted was elections from block, DCCs (district Congress committees), PCCs (pradesh/state Congress committees) with a fixed tenure, as is provided for in the party constitution. That is all.
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We just wanted adherence to the Congress constitution. But if the thinking of the party is…that (election) is not necessary, then so be it.
The CWC has been recast, but again all members have been nominated by the Congress president.
Article XIX of the party’s constitution says that apart from the party president and leaders of the Congress in Parliament, the working committee (CWC) shall consist of 23 other members, of whom 12 will be elected by the AICC. Now that the CWC is nominated, none of this is likely to happen. What will, of course, happen is the election of the (Congress) president by those who are in the AICC.
If nominations are the norm, and elections are anathema, then we might as well change the Constitution of the Congress party.
Those AICC members are also not elected…
Not elected in the context of the constitution of the party.
How do you view that?
I have no opinion on that. I think the Congress, as I said, is entitled to function as it wishes, given that great minds have come together to adopt this course of action.
There is some amount of accommodation as well. Some of the signatories of the letter have been included as members of key committees, and some have been elevated.
We are very happy if such accommodation will meet with the aspirations of Congress workers and the party, which hopes to succeed in our fight against the present oppressive, undemocratic regime.
But what about the fundamental issues that you all had raised in the letter?
We can only raise questions. We cannot provide answers.
What next? The issues that you had raised?
If the Congress in this process realises its aspirations, I will be delighted, and I hope it does.