Months after senior Congress leaders expressed their disappointment with the party’s rudderless leadership, the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi held a meeting with some of the dissenting leaders, the first attempt at rapprochement between both sides of the party.
The meeting saw participation from senior leaders such as Ashok Gehlot, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Ambika Soni, P Chidambaram, BS Hooda, Prithviraj Chavan and others, who arrived at Gandhi’s residence, 10 Janpath, this morning. Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Uttar Pradesh party in-charge Priyanka Gandhi were also present in the meeting.
The meeting was arranged last week after 7-8 key leaders of the 23 dissenting leaders—who had penned a letter to Sonia Gandhi in August this year—demanding sweeping changes in the party leadership, had met several times in Delhi over the past week. A list of potential attendees was sent to Sonia, out of which a select group was finalised to meet her, Indian Express reported.
According to the reports, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath played a critical role in coordinating the meeting between the rebels and the Congress party leadership. Ms Gandhi had met Nath twice after she had returned from a fortnight’s break to Goa earlier this month. As per a Congress party source, the meeting was called in to discuss the future of the party, along with ironing out the differences existing within the party.
Randeep Surjewala proclaims 99.99 per cent in Congress want to see Rahul Gandhi as their leader
The meeting came a day after Congress leader Randeep Surjewala proclaimed that 99.99 per cent of the people in Congress believed that Rahul Gandhi is the right person to lead the party.
“It is my belief and the belief of the overwhelming majority, 99.99 per cent of the Congress leaders and workers that Rahul Gandhi is the right person to lead the Congress party and to take on the Modi government,” Surjewala said.
Ahead of the Saturday’s meeting, Surjewala said there was no dissension in the party and the meet was between the party members and not between two factions. “This is not a meet of any specific group of leaders. This is not a meet of any dissenters or rebels because we consider each leader, each worker of the Congress party as part of the family. And addressing the issues raised by some of the senior leaders, friends and colleagues, the Congress party had already decided to hold the election for the post of president of the Congress. That process is currently underway,” he said.
Speculations rife of another relaunch of Rahul Gandhi
However, as soon as the news of a meeting between Sonia Gandhi and rebel Congress leaders came out, some journalists citing sources alleged that the meeting culminated with Congress leaders once again zeroing in on Rahul Gandhi to assume the reins of the party.
Sources :— Supriya Bhardwaj (@Supriya23bh) December 19, 2020
Mrs Sonia Gandhi के घर हुई कांग्रेस नेताओं की बैठक में Mr @RahulGandhi को अध्यक्ष पद सँभालने की माँग उठी
बैठक के अंत में राहुल गांधी ने कहा कि पार्टी जो ज़िम्मेदार देगी उसे मैं उठाउंगा
इस पर बैठक में तालियाँ बजीं pic.twitter.com/HPyaJ7f6Pz
It is pertinent to note that there have been numerous attempts made by the Congress leaders to launch Rahul Gandhi over and over again. After enduring an embarrassing defeat in the 2019 General elections, Rahul Gandhi had tendered his resignation from the post of Congress President, which was eventually taken over by Sonia Gandhi.
Earlier this year, reports surfaced alleging that after almost 7 months of sabbatical, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was all set to once again assume the mantle of Presidentship of the oldest political party of India. Elaborate plans were reportedly chalked out by the Congress leaders to reinstate Rahul Gandhi as the President of the party. The plans included presiding over an all- India tour, starting from Rajasthan, followed by Kerala, Jharkhand, Congress-ruled states and other poll-bound states.
23 Congress leaders wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi in August and November demanding a complete overhaul of the party
However, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, perhaps, threw a curve to their master plan and the Congress leaders had to contend with Sonia Gandhi’s leadership. A few months down, resentment within the party had once again shot up, prompting 23 senior Congress leaders, including 5 former Chief Ministers, many Congress Working Committee members, incumbent MPs, and several former Union Ministers, to tender a letter to interim Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, calling for a complete overhaul of the party, from top to bottom.
The appalling performance in Bihar Assembly elections last month led to a fresh flare-up within the party, with the senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal publicly commenting that the time for introspection is over. Following Congress’ disappointing performance in Bihar, 23 senior Congress leaders had reportedly written a letter to interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi demanding that an immediate CWC meeting be called to discuss the poll debacle in Bihar. They have reportedly also demanded organisational elections for the party president’s post be held at the earliest in the view of the electoral drubbing. They had also raised questions on the vacation by Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra.