WITH THE Congress searching for answers after the humiliating defeats in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, senior leader Digvijaya Singh has called for a “new Congress” with “ a new charter, a new roadmap, a new style of campaigning”. And, he said, it’s time Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi acted decisively. Speaking at The Indian Express Idea Exchange event, Singh said, “I would say that we want a new Congress, a new charter, a new roadmap, a new style of campaigning. A new Congress has to be built, and there is no other person who can do it better than Rahul Gandhi. He has to act… My complaint against Rahul Gandhi is that he is not acting… decisively. I have told him a number of times. Sometimes, he gets angry when I keep repeating the same thing.”
Answering questions about the party’s future following a series of electoral setbacks in states since the 2014 general elections, Singh said, “We have to… make Congress more attuned to modern changing times, looking into the aspirations of a rising middle class, and chart a new course for the party.” Asked who would do it, Singh said, “The leadership has to do it… Rahul Gandhi has to do it.”
The AICC general secretary also rued the fact that the A K Antony Committee report, on the party’s 2014 Lok Sabha poll debacle, was yet to be implemented. The report was summarised and discussed by Rahul with more than 150 senior leaders, as well as state and district units of the party, said Singh.
“This report was submitted in February 28, 2015. And on the basis of that report, the new Congress was to be drafted. Unfortunately, that has not happened. This should happen,” he said, adding that only Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul would know when the report will be implemented.
He said the problem that the Congress faces is not of leadership and insisted that the Gandhis remain the “binding force” for partymen. “We have leadership, we have leaders. (The) Nehru-Gandhi family is the greatest binding factor in Congress. The issue is not of leadership. The issue is of rejuvenating and redrafting the new Congress…,” he said.
Parrying a question about Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s future political role, he said it was for the family to decide. “Congressmen throughout the country should be very happy if Priyanka Gandhi takes to active politics,” he said.
Asked specifically about the loss in Uttarakhand, despite the presence of a strong regional leader in Harish Rawat, Singh said he was “amazed” at how the chief minister lost from both assembly segments where people had previously voted strongly for the party.