Congress leader Salman Khurshid said on Sunday that there was no urgency to have an elected party president, PTI reported. Khurshid said he cannot “see the heavens falling” as Sonia Gandhi was still in charge and should be the one to decide the future leader.
“For people like me, we already have leaders, we have a leader in Mrs Sonia Gandhi, we have a leader in Rahul Gandhi,” Khurshid said. “So for me there is no sense of urgency about electing leaders. Electing a president, yes that will happen when it happens, I can’t see the heavens falling down. What is the sense of urgency that is being expressed, is not clear to me.”
Khurshid, among the leaders close to the Gandhi family, told PTI in an interview that he would not have signed the letter sent by 23 senior party leaders to Sonia Gandhi, even if he had been approached to do so. The letter had sought free elections and a full-time, operational leadership for the party, among other things.
“It is very clear that the important persons in this letter do belong to the top echelons of our party and therefore Mrs Gandhi has indicated that it was best that they could have discussed it within the confines of the party,” the Congress leader said.
On senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad wanting elections in the party, Khurshid said there have been no elections for decades while Azad has been the leader, and yet the party has prospered. However, he expressed hope that the Congress leadership will give thought to Azad’s views.
Azad had called for internal elections and said that a president appointed without one may not even have 1% support of the leaders. Azad had maintained that selected portions of the letter were leaked to the media.
“We don’t have a part-time president, we have a full-time president but the full-time president is an interim president and no ordinary person as an interim president as she is the longest serving president,” Khurshid said. “We must just trust and leave it to the longest serving president to take steps when she thinks it is appropriate.”
The Congress leader said the signatories to the letter had approached the president of the party for two decades, so it was not clear what had changed in the present that they had to write a letter. Asked about the future of the party with “knives out”, Khurshid said the “pens are out”. Of course the words written with pens can hurt and they did, but they don’t draw blood...it’s only ink, it’s something we can live with and I am sure that the ink will fade in due course,” he said metaphorically.
Khurshid also said that it should be up to Rahul Gandhi whether he wants to return to the post of president of the party. “Surely he understands the implications of that letter more than I do, he will do what he thinks is the best to do,” Khurshid said.
On August 24, 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. Gandhi’s successor will be chosen within six months.
On August 29, Congress leader Jitin Prasada, a signatory to the letter, said it was being “misconstrued” after he came under fire from Gandhi family loyalists. His comments came three days after the Congress unit in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district passed a resolution demanding Prasada’s expulsion.
Also on August 29, Kapil Sibal claimed that not one concern raised in the letter had been addressed by the Congress Working Committee. He also said that no leader “stepped in when those who wrote the letter were attacked”.
Sibal said taking up the contents of the letter by the CWC, was a “fundamental thing” that should have happened. “This is what these 23 people have written,” he added. “If you find fault with any of what we have written, then, surely, we can be questioned and we should be questioned.”