Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Wednesday said that there was no clarity on who was taking decisions within the party. His comments came a day after the party’s Punjab state unit chief Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned from his post just two months after his appointment.
“In our party, there is no president so we don’t know who is taking decisions,” Sibal said at a press conference in Delhi. “We know and yet we don’t know.”
Currently, the Congress has no full-time president and Sonia Gandhi acts as the interim party chief.
Sibal claimed he was speaking on behalf of those Congress leaders who had written to Gandhi in August 2020 asking for a complete revamp of the party’s organisation. He said that the group of 23 leaders, also known as G-23, will continue to ask questions to the party’s leadership.
Sibal added that the dissenting leaders were waiting for a decision from the top leadership of the party regarding election of the president, Congress Working Committee and the party’s central election committee.
In December, Gandhi had met the dissenters in a bid to address the crisis plaguing the party. On January 22, the Congress had announced that it will have a new elected president by June. However, the election was delayed due to the coronavirus situation in the country.
Sibal on Wednesday described the Congress’ situation as ironic: “Those who were close to them [party leadership] have left and those whom they don’t consider to be close to them are still standing with them.”
The party veteran also urged all those who left the Congress to return to the party fold. “…Congress alone can save this republic,” Sibal claimed.
He called for a detailed discussion on the state of the party. “Why are people leaving?” Sibal asked. “Maybe we should see whether it is our fault?
“I believe that one of my senior colleagues has perhaps written or is about to write to Congress president to immediately convene a CWC so that a dialogue can take place as to why we are in this state.”
Following his comments, several Youth Congress workers staged a protest outside his home in Delhi, carrying placards that read “get well soon”, reported NDTV.
The protestors threw tomatoes and damaged his car. They also shouted slogans such as “Leave the party, come to your senses” and “Rahul Gandhi zindabad [long live Rahul Gandhi]”.
A Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee functionary said the workers were hurt by Sibal’s remarks. “They just expressed their disappointment over the remarks,” he told PTI.
After the protests, Sibal told NDTV that he was not shaken by the “drama”, adding that he was very careful about what he said.
In response to Sibal’s question about who was the party’s president, India Youth Congress chief Srinivas BV said it was the person who has ensured that he reached Parliament.
“[It is the person] who made you a minister during the party’s good times,” Srinivas said in a tweet. “When it was in Opposition, it took you to Rajya Sabha, always rewarded with responsibilities in good and bad times.”
Srinivas left his thought incomplete after saying that “when the time came for struggle...”, hinting at Sibal’s purported rebellion against the party.
Congress leader Ajay Maken said Sonia Gandhi had ensured that Sibal becomes a Union minister despite him not having any organisational background, reported ANI.
“Everyone in the party is being heard,”Maken said. “[I] want to tell Mr Sibal and others that they shouldn’t degrade the organisation that gave them an identity.”
Ghulam Azad seeks Congress Working Committee meeting
Meanhwile, Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is also part of the G-23, has written to Sonia Gandhi asking for a working committee meeting to discuss the latest exits from the party and the crisis in Punjab, reported NDTV.
The Congress in Punjab plunged into a crisis on September 18 when Amarinder Singh stepped down as chief minister of the state following differences with Sidhu. The next day, the Congress named Charanjit Singh Channi the new chief minister of the state.
On Tuesday, Sidhu abruptly resigned as the party’s state chief.
Sidhu had reportedly been upset about the Cabinet changes made on Sunday. Fifteen MLAs were inducted into Channi’s Cabinet, but Sidhu was reportedly ignored when the Cabinet ministers were chosen.