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NEW DELHI: The ticklish issue of ad-hoc leadership in Congress was back in focus when a tweet by suspended party man Sanjay Jha, claiming that a large group of leaders had written to Sonia Gandhi seeking internal elections, prompted an instant denial from the party but not before it had triggered feverish speculation about the emergence of a ‘ginger group’ within the party.
Jha, a former spokesman who was suspended from Congress recently, tweeted, “It is estimated that around 100 Congress leaders (including MPs), distressed at the state of affairs within the party, have written a letter to Sonia Gandhi asking for change in political leadership and transparent elections in CWC. Watch this space.”

As the tweet stoked a media storm, Congress spokespersons Supriya Shrinate and Pranav Jha said, “No such letter has been written and received by the Congress. Such issues being raised by an individual who is not considered a member of Congress suggests that he is acting at the behest of BJP which is using it as a diversionary tactic to take the attention away from Facebook-BJP controversy.”
The leadership issue has seen Rahul Gandhi loyalists urge him to return as Congress president while some others, while ostensibly supporting the idea, have said an alternative be found if he remains disinterested. There is said to be unease within at the lack of clarity on decision-making which leaders say is creating confusion. Their refrain is that Rahul should assume full-time leadership since his fingerprints on key decisions are evident.
While Congress denied existence of the letter, party sources said a ‘ginger group’ had been discussing a “draft” to be sent to the Congress chief for the last few days. The issues flagged ranged from settlement of the leadership question, constitution of the parliamentary board and elections to the CWC, sources said. The group is said to comprise some veterans, MPs as also young leaders.
It was said the group may seek time with Sonia to discuss their concerns.
If the row refused to die down despite the denial, it was largely because the leadership issue is troubling Congress. Sonia last week completed one year as the party’s ‘interim chief’, a position that was considered a holding job when she assumed it last year after Rahul resigned following the Lok Sabha debacle and refused to take back his resignation.
During these months, the issue of who will steer Congress has occupied much of the chatter within, even at the cost of organisational rebuilding.
However, such moves are also seen through the prism of generational clash which has racked the Congress since 2014.
Simmering within for a long time now, the clash exploded in the open last month when a meeting of Congress Rajya Sabha MPs with Sonia led to a verbal duel among participants over the reason for the party’s decline. While a group blamed it on confusion over leadership and sought a post-mortem of the 2019 defeat, Rahul confidants linked the organisational decline to the UPA’s term in office, a euphemism for the old guard, starting a public exchange which could only be put out by a gag order from the party.



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