Find new chief: Sonia Gandhi, keen on resigning, tells Congress
At the crucial Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting today, interim President Sonia Gandhi is likely to offer her resignation, amid a rift that emerged in the party after a letter was sent to her by 23 members demanding an overhaul in the organization. According to HT, the 73-year-old responded to the letter asking the signatories to find a replacement soon. Here's what went down.
Sonia was chosen as the interim chief of the party in August 2019, weeks after Congress failed to change her son Rahul Gandhi's decision to not continue as the President. Rahul tendered his resignation after Congress was wiped out in 2019 general elections, a repeat of its 2014 performance. Sonia took charge on the condition that a new chief would be announced soon.
Now, with Congress being clueless and unprepared to take on BJP, 23 top leaders wrote a letter to Sonia, batting for a change in leadership. The letter signed by the likes of Ghulam Nabi Azad, Shashi Tharoor, Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Rajender Kaur Bhattal, M Veerappa Moily, Prithviraj Chavan, Milind Deora, etc., was reportedly sent on August 7.
Notably, the letter's contents indicted the top brass of laxity, saying that the party's decline comes when India is dealing with its "gravest political, social, and economic challenges since Independence," reports IE. Listing ways in which Congress can be revived, the letter supported decentralization of power, suggested empowering state units, holding polls across all levels, and forming a Central Parliamentary Board soon.
Further, the politicians pointed out that more than a year after the Lok Sabha debacle, Congress is yet to do "honest introspection," and the way it is functioning has adversely affected the morale of workers. The letter claimed that CWC meetings are merely "episodic" and Congress Parliamentary Party meetings are only about Sonia's addresses. Moreover, the party members demanded an "active and visible" leadership.
The letter didn't slam Rahul, and instead appreciated his and Sonia's tenures as the party presidents. It reportedly added that the Nehru-Gandhi family will always be an "integral part" of Congress' collective leadership. Evidently though, the letter sparked a flutter and its leak is said to have infuriated Sonia's camp. At the important CWC meeting, it could be discussed at length.
After the letter got leaked, Sonia told her aides that she isn't interested in handling the reins anymore and that they should get together to find a replacement. However, her exit, if it happens, won't be sans drama. Hours after the unusual letter became a topic of discussion, Congress leaders shot another letter to Sonia declaring "complete and unwavering support" to her family.
Written by Congress' leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and circulated among Congress MLAs/MPs, this new letter said that the party is safe only in the hands of Sonia and Rahul. The leaders who received it were expected to forward it to the top brass, in a bid to convince Sonia to stay. Some shared the letter on Twitter on their letter-heads.
Deriding the first letter, the second one said a "bogey" issue about leadership crisis was raised "when the country faces a grave threat from the BJP-RSS and their fascist government." The initial letter shocked them more so because some of the signatories rose in Congress' ranks with Sonia's support, the second letter said. Among those who endorsed Sonia were Manickam Tagore and Varsha Gaikwad.
Meanwhile, some biggies like Amarinder Singh, Bhupesh Baghel, and Siddaramaiah also want Gandhis to remain at the helm. On the row, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Singh said, "Sonia Gandhi should continue as long as she wants; Rahul Gandhi should take over after her as he is fully competent." He also opined that now was not the time to raise such issues.
The battle between Gandhi family loyalists and those wanting a change has divided Congress, and it is expected some questions will be answered today. Reports claimed that Rahul and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are reluctant to accept the top post. Rahul has reiterated his stand that he would continue fighting BJP-RSS as a loyal Congress worker, and won't head the party.