The dilemma of the growing rift within the Congress party has compelled Sonia Gandhi to meet the dissenters within the party, in person. According to reports, the Congress interim president will be meeting the 23 leaders face-to-face on December 19 and 20, to discuss the letter written to her in August, demanding a sweeping change in the party, from top to bottom.
This is the first time Gandhi will be meeting the Congress leaders in person, months after the Covid-19 outbreak forced everyone to work virtually. She has been holding meetings over video conferencing ever since March, including crucial Congress Working Committee meetings where party leaders discussed the ‘letter’.
Reports suggest that besides discussing the demand for an overhaul management change and a “full and active leadership”, the party would also discuss its strategy on the government not convening the winter session of Parliament, finalising alliances and its strategy in the poll-bound states of Assam, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, the farmer’s agitation and the holding of the organisational elections. Rahul Gandhi is also likely to attend the meeting.
Congress ‘rebel’ leaders call for a complete overhaul of the party
In August the party’s top brass had called for full time and effective leadership, visible and active in the field, elections to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and an “institutional leadership mechanism” aimed at the party’s revival. 23 senior Congress leaders, including 5 former Chief Ministers, many Congress Working Committee members, incumbent MPs, and several former Union Ministers, wrote a letter to interim Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, calling for a complete overhaul of the party, from top to bottom.
The defiant letter had created a furore within the Congress party, with the former Congress president Rahul Gandhi allegedly accusing the signatories of the letter of colluding with the BJP, an allegation that was later denied.
However, the disenchantment within the Congress party became even more apparent as these 23 senior leaders wrote, not once but twice to party chief Sonia Gandhi, expressing their concerns over the degradation of the party.
Congress dissenters once again write to Sonia Gandhi complaining about Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi
In November, after the Bihar election debacle, these leaders again wrote to Sonia Gandhi demanding organisational elections for the party president’s post be held at the earliest. The letter also pointed towards a lack of faith in the leadership of Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, suggesting in a censorious tone that at the peak of Bihar campaigning and even on result day, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were holidaying in Shimla instead of being with the party and leading the way.
A senior leader was then quoted as saying by Rediff: “Can such a casual approach happen in any other party which has a national presence?”
Among those who wrote both the letters, are Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and deputy leader of the party in the Upper House, Anand Sharma.