A virtual meeting of Rajya Sabha MPs of the Congress chaired by party president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday saw sharp exchange of views between former ministers in the United Progressive Alliance-II government and party leaders close to Rahul Gandhi, The Hindu reported.

Newly-elected Rajya Sabha MP Rajiv Satav blamed UPA-II for the problems of the Congress in the present times. Satav claimed that it was the UPA-II government that had spoilt the party’s prospects in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when it secured just 44 seats. In the 2019 polls, the party barely increased its tally, winning 52 seats out of 543.

Satav’s remark came after senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal called for the need for introspection.
Introspect by all means…but how did we come to 44…that should also be looked into,” he said, according to The Indian Express. “We were 200-plus in 2009. You are all saying this [need to introspect] now. You were all ministers then. Frankly, it should also be looked into where you failed. You have to introspect from the UPA-II period.”

Punjab MP Shamsher Singh Dullo, a senior leader, lashed out at the youngsters in turn, claiming that while seniors were being ignored, sycophants were given power. “Sycophancy prevails in the party and promotion and posts are being given in the party based on liking and not on merit and seniority,” he said.

Former Punjab Congress President Partap Singh Bajwa said the party should send its volunteers to every nook and corner of India to reconnect with the people. “They will have to fight the BJP government on the streets,” he reportedly said. “It cannot be done on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.”

Participants endorse Rahul Gandhi’s return as party chief

Several leaders, including Digvijaya Singh, Abhishek Singhvi and Satav, endorsed Assam MP Nipun Bora’s suggestion that Rahul Gandhi should return as the Congress president. Singhvi also said the party should run a sustained campaign against the “subversion” of democratic, parliamentary and constitutional institutions, instead of following a “shoot and scoot” strategy.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and ministers Chidambaram, AK Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, as well as Ahmed Patel, were also present at the meeting.

Sonia Gandhi told the meeting about her letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on helping migrant workers through welfare measures, and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. She accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of “toppling elected governments” instead of handling challenges like China, a “grave challenge” for the country.

Relations between India and China have soured after a clash between troops of the two countries at Galwan Valley in Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control led to the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and an unidentified number of their Chinese counterparts.