Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday removed Sanjay Jha as her party’s spokesperson, almost 10 days after he criticised and questioned the party’s leadership in an opinion piece published in The Times of India.
“It is a false claim that there exists a robust internal democratic process that listens to individual voices, and more importantly, is continuously focused on party renewal, political strategy, tactical warfare, leadership development and resuscitation starting at the grassroots, the erstwhile USP of the Congress,” Jha had written in his article published on June 7.
Along with Jha’s termination, Congress also announced the appointment of Abhishek Dutt and Sadhna Bharti as the party’s national media panelists.
In his opinion piece, Jha had also called out his own party for its indifferent attitude. “The Congress has demonstrated extraordinary lassitude, and its lackadaisical attitude towards its own political obsolescence is baffling, to say the least [and this despite a whopping defeat in two Lok Sabha elections and several reverses in states],” he wrote. “There are many in the party who cannot comprehend this perceptible listlessness. For someone like me, for instance, permanently wedded to Gandhian philosophy and Nehruvian outlook that defines the Congress, it is dismaying to see its painful disintegration.”
Jha’s comments have brought back attention to leadership troubles within the Congress. Rahul Gandhi had resigned as the party’s president in July after its poor show in the Lok Sabha elections. Congress had managed to win only 52 of 543 parliamentary seats in elections. In August, Sonia Gandhi was named the Congress’ interim president.
Jha had also differed with the party line in a tweet about Indo-China tensions. “This is a time for great mature political consensus within India in responding to China’s dangerous aggression,” he tweeted on Wednesday. “I don’t care if Mr Modi made several outrageous rhetorical comments against our Congress/UPA [United Progressive Alliance] government in the past. We must rise. Let’s be different. Let’s be one.” Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Congress leader Anand Sharma, on the other hand, had pressed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a firm response.
Jha has served as the Congress’s national spokesperson since 2013. Last month, he had tested positive for the coronavirus.