The letter written by 23 Congress leaders to party president Sonia Gandhi says that there has been a “steady decline of the party”, as witnessed in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, but no “honest introspection” to analyse the reasons for these massive defeats, NDTV reported on Thursday. The Congress won just 44 seats out of 543 in 2014, and 52 in 2019.
“We have witnessed a steady decline of the Congress Party reflected in successive electoral verdicts in States and General Elections in 2014 and 2019,” the letter reads, according to NDTV. “Reasons are manifold and need to be immediately identified. Otherwise, the Congress Party will find itself marginalized, both in the States, which is already apparent, as well as at the national level.” The letter said that it was a major concern that the Congress has lost the support of the youth of the country.
The letter has been signed by leaders Shashi Tharoor, Mukul Wasnik, Kapil Sibal, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, among others. It also said that the Congress no more was a “nurturing leadership” and that free and fair elections need to be held in the party.
The letter added that instead of deserving individuals, “resource-rich individuals or those backed by powerful patrons” are now in charge of organisations like the Youth Congress.
“Even after 14 months of the 2019 electoral verdict, the Congress Party has not undertaken any honest introspection to analyse the reasons for its continued decline,” the letter said. “In order to stem the decline, we have taken upon ourselves to be open and frank so that the Congress Party’s future, which presently is at stake, is not jeopardized any further.”
The letter added that Congress workers on the ground were demoralised because of the uncertainty over the leadership. Many leaders and functionaries of the party have left, it said. The Congress is yet to appoint a full time president since Rahul Gandhi resigned following the 2019 Lok Sabha election debacle.
The letter said the Congress Working Committee was an ineffective institution and its meetings were purely episodic and reacting to contemporary events, rather than being a deliberative body for setting the agenda and for taking policy decisions. The letter said that the meetings of the Congress Parliamentary Party have been reduced to the “customary address of the CPP leader and obituary references”.
The letter listed several remedial measures in order to stem the decline of the party and improve its electoral performance once again. It said the party should have a full-time and active leadership that is visible, as well as available at the All India Congress Committee headquarters. The letter added that elections of Congress Working Committee members, AICC members and block and state Congress chiefs should be held in a transparent manner. Azad had on Thursday called for internal elections and said that a president appointed without one may not even have 1% support of the leaders.
The signatories suggested that the Central Parliamentary Board of the party be urgently constituted “for collective thinking and decision-making”. They called for inclusion of “leaders with organisational background and active field knowledge and experience”, and an “institutional leadership mechanism” to guide the revival of the party.
“A sincere effort should be made to bring on to one platform leaders of political parties, who were once part of the Congress,” the signatories added. They also assured Sonia Gandhi that the Nehru-Gandhi family will remain an integral part of the collective leadership of the Congress.
On August 24, the Congress Working Committee passed a unanimous resolution for Sonia Gandhi to continue as the party’s interim president. However, the Congress will pick a new president within six months. The Congress’s key meeting was convened after Sonia Gandhi offered to step down from the top post and said that she was in favour of appointing a new president.