The efforts being made by Mrs Gandhi’s supporters to enable her to play a dominant role in the affairs of the Congress suffered another setback with Y.B. Chavan, leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party and Brahmananda Reddy, Congress President, making it clear that the party could no longer be allowed to function on the basis of personality cult. Chavan and Reddy, who have of late joined hands in their attempt to keep Mrs Gandhi at bay, chose the valedictory meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party for making their views known on the question. Chavan said that no individual was important. What was important was the Congress party. He added that if anyone symbolised the party leadership it was the Congress president. The CPP leader went on to say that the Congress had become great not because of any individual’s contribution, but because it was built up by its workers over the years. No dispute about leadership would arise if the party’s institutional instruments — the Congress Working Committee and the Congress Parliamentary Board — functioned. Mrs Gandhi’s supporters have been campaigning that the concept of collective leadership, which was evolved at the AICC session should not mean exclusion of Mrs Gandhi from the party’s decision-making process.
Cong Leader Quits
K. Hanumanthaiya, former Union minister for railways, announced his decision to resign from the Congress. He said he would decide on his future plan after consulting friends and well-wishers. He added that Janata Party leaders including Raj Narain called him and invited him to join the party.
Prime Minister Morarji Desai is likely to expand his cabinet by inducting 25 junior ministers — 20 as ministers of state and five as deputy ministers. The ministry has 19 cabinet ministers. He may also utilise the opportunity to reshuffle portfolios.