Senior Congress leader and former union minister Ambika Soni Saturday lashed out at Union Minister Jairam Ramesh for his suggestion that the older generation in the party must make way, saying the remark was “uncalled for”.
“It was totally uncalled for. He (Ramesh) should have resisted the temptation of speaking on issues that could lead to a controversy at a time when we are facing a tough election,” Soni told The Sunday Express.
In an interview to The Economic Times, Ramesh had said people over 70 should be accommodated in “advisory positions”. He added that when Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi becomes PM, he would have a “young Cabinet”. “People in India don’t know when to exit… They hang on and on. That is why most mentors in India become tormentors. There are 80-year-olds who want to contest,” Ramesh had said.
Soni, who is general secretary in-charge of Sonia Gandhi’s office, said the issue was important enough to be brought to the attention of the Congress president. She said she “would have written to her” if she had not been in the midst of a hectic campaign schedule.
“The leadership has always held there should be a harmonious blend of experience, youthful enthusiasm and energy,” Soni said.
Soni, 71, is a four-time Rajya Sabha member but is contesting from Anandpur Sahib in Punjab in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.
When contacted, Ramesh, who will turn 60 next month, said, “Every organisation has to renew itself periodically. Generational shifts must take place.” He added it was his “personal view” and “nothing more, nothing less”. Ramesh, who is also the convenor of the party’s campaign committee, has never fought a Lok Sabha election.
His statement comes at a time when there have been reports of schisms between the old and the new guard in the party ever since Rahul took over the reins.