Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, one of the signatories of the letter that sought a leadership change in the party, on Thursday called for internal elections and said that a president appointed without one may not even have 1% support of the leaders, ANI reported. His comments came three days after the Congress Working Committee in a resolution said Sonia Gandhi will continue to be the interim president of the party after a marathon virtual meeting.
“Those office-bearers or state unit presidents or block district presidents who attack our proposal know that they will be nowhere when elections happen,” Azad told ANI. “Otherwise, whoever is genuinely invested in the Congress will welcome the letter.”
The letter was written by 23 Congress leaders and included former chief ministers such as Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Prithviraj Chavan, former ministers Shashi Tharoor, and Milind Deora and Jitin Prasada. It questioned the party’s style of functioning, demanded collective leadership and called for “a full time and visible” party chief.
“An election has the benefit that when you fight elections, at least your party is 51% behind you,” Azad added. “Right now, the person who becomes president might not even have 1% support. If CWC members are elected, then they cannot be removed. So what is the problem?”
The Rajya Sabha member said the letter suggested that state Congress heads, district, block presidents and the entire Congress Working Committee should be elected.
At the meeting on Monday, the Congress clarified that former chief Rahul Gandhi had not accused the dissenting leaders of “colluding with the BJP” as was initially reported. Azad had maintained that selected portions of the letter were leaked to the media. He had also offered to resign after alleged critical comments from the party leaders that they had acted at the behest of the saffron party.
Sonia Gandhi’s successor will be chosen within six months, the Congress said.
Shiv Sena hits out at Congress leaders who wrote letter
Meanwhile, an editorial published in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana on Thursday alleged that the letter was a conspiracy to end Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, PTI reported. Gandhi had resigned as the party president in July as he held himself accountable for the party’s Lok Sabha election debacle and maintained that accountability would be critical for the party’s future growth. The Congress managed to win only 52 of 543 parliamentary seats in the Lok Sabha elections in May last year.
“When people from within are involved in the national conspiracy to finish off Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, the party is sure to meet its ‘panipat’ [defeat]...these old guards have sabotaged Rahul Gandhi internally, a damage which even the BJP hasn’t inflicted on him,” the editorial said.
The Sena, which is in coalition with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party in Maharashtra, said the letter writers became chief ministers and Union ministers because of the Gandhi-Nehru family. “In all states, the [Congress] heavyweight leaders are interested only in their position and not of the party,” it said. “If they don’t have their way, they shift to the BJP. This is the only activeness they show. What can Rahul and Sonia Gandhi do about it? This is a new political coronavirus.”