NEW DELHI: Ahead of the crucial Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on Monday, the party was deeply divided on the leadership issue with a section demanding a “full-time” chief and another backing Gandhis at the helm, amid indications that interim president Sonia Gandhi might offer to quit.
Over 20 leaders have written to party chief Sonia Gandhi seeking collective leadership and a revamp of major bodies.
Here are the key developments:
Need full-time leadership active in field: 23 Cong leaders to Sonia
Having a “full time” leadership that is active in the field and “visible” in party offices, dissolution of powers to state units and revamping the CWC in line with the party constitution are some of the far-reaching suggestions made by 23 senior Congress leaders in a letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi to revive the organisation, sources said on Sunday.
The leaders said that over-centralisation of the organisation and micro-management has always proven to be counter-productive, and that uncertainty over the leadership has “demoralised the Congress workers and further weakened the party”.
The signatories to the letter include Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad; former Union ministers Kapil Sibal, Shashi Tharoor, Anand Sharma, Manish Tewari, P J Kurian, Renuka Chaudhary and Milind Deora, and Ajay Singh.
Entire Congress party in Karnataka stands by Gandhi family: State leaders
Amid talks of having a “full time” leadership in Congress that is active in the field and “visible”, leaders of the party’s Karnataka unit threw their weight behind the Gandhi family.
The party’s state unit Chief D K Shivakumar said the entire Congress party in Karnataka stands by the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and the Gandhi family.
“Mrs. Gandhi has led the Congress during times of crisis and saved our party. Anything that has to be discussed must be done so in the party forum and not in the media,” he tweeted.
Leaders back Sonia Gandhi
Amarinder Singh, Bhupesh Baghel, Ashok Gehlot, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Ashwani Kumar, Salman Khurshid and KK Tewary were among the Congress leaders who backed Sonia Gandhi.
Gehlot said the Gandhi family has kept the party united and the letter written by senior Congress leaders over the leadership issue is an unfortunate move. Gehlot said Sonia Gandhi should continue to lead the party and if she has made up her mind, then Rahul Gandhi should come ahead and be the Congress president as the country faces the biggest challenge to save its democracy.
Amarinder Singh also opposed the bid by some Congress leaders to challenge the Gandhi family leadership, saying this is not the time to raise such an issue. In a statement, Singh said the need today is for a strong opposition against the BJP-led NDA which is out to destroy the country’s constitutional ethos and democratic principles.
Calls for Rahul as Congress chief again
Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel wrote a letter to Rahul Gandhi, urging him to return as the president of the party. Baghel posted the copy of his letter to Gandhi on his Twitter account.
The tweet also carried a comment, which read: “Hon’ble Sonia ji and Rahul ji are the ray of hope for us in every challenge. We are all with you. Millions of party workers and people of Chhattisgarh and the entire nation are with you…”
Maharashtra Congress chief and revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat said former party president Rahul Gandhi should lead the grand old party. Thorat also described Rahul Gandhi as a”courageous, sensitive and intellectually-committed leader”.
Senior leader Salman Khurshid said the party should give consensus a chance instead of elections which create divisiveness. Khurshid also said Rahul Gandhi enjoys the “full support” and “endorsement” of party leaders and workers, and it does not matter whether he wears the label of a president or not.
Reports of Sonia Gandhi resigning false: Surjewala
Ahead of the CWC meeting on Monday, Sonia Gandhi has communicated to members of the party’s highest decision-making body that she was not interested in continuing and asked them to find a new chief, sources said, even as two chief ministers have come out to back the Gandhis’ leadership.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, however, denied any such move, saying nothing has been communicated by the interim president or said on her behalf. “Reports of Sonia Gandhi resigning from the post of Congress interim president are false,” Surjewala told ANI.
Amid leadership debate, CWC to meet on Monday
Amid a debate over the leadership issue, top Congress leaders will meet through video-conferencing on Monday and are likely to discuss the matter. The CWC, the highest decision-making body of the party, will meet at 11am on Monday, AICC general secretary K C Venugopal said.
All permanent and special invitees to the CWC have been invited to the meeting, where the leadership issue is also likely to be discussed, besides the current political situation in the country.
(With inputs from agencies)
Watch Gandhi family loyalists bat for Rahul, Sonia to helm Congress