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‘No vacancy now’: Congress gives up hope on Rahul Gandhi becoming party president? Here is what Ghulam Nabi Azad said

According to the statement of Azad, it becomes apparent now that the Congress party has lost hope that Rahul Gandhi would take over as the party president and Sonia Gandhi is now the effective president of the party and not just the interim president.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, a senior Congress leader and member of the G-23 dissent group, met Sonia Gandhi, the grand old party’s interim president, on Friday amid a discord within the party. The two senior leaders of the Congress met after members of the dissenting group convened for a series of meetings to discuss ways to reform the party. On March 14, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) met, and the party’s poor performance in the recently concluded assembly elections was discussed.

During the meeting, which lasted for almost an hour, Azad is said to have proposed elections to the Congress Working Committee, making the Central Election Committee an elected body, and resurrecting the defunct Parliamentary Board to ensure collective decision-making.

After meeting Sonia Gandhi, Azad told reporters that the position of Congress president is “not vacant” and that the CWC, of which he is a member, has decided to hold elections for the AICC president in August-September.

“The meeting with Congress president was good. We keep meeting the Congress chief and she meets leaders regularly. A working committee meeting happened recently and suggestions were asked to strengthen the Congress party. I also had given some suggestions. So I have repeated those suggestions. Overall the discussion was on upcoming assembly polls. Suggestions to improve the party can’t be given publicly. There is no vacancy for a party president now. She offered her resignation but we rejected it. It was decided unanimously that she should continue. No one has asked her to step aside,” he added.

Notably, this was the second meeting between the Gandhi family and the G-23 rebel Congress leaders.

According to the statement of Azad, it becomes apparent now that the Congress party has lost hope that Rahul Gandhi would take over as the party president and Sonia Gandhi is now the effective president of the party, and not just the interim president.

Prior to this, on Thursday, Rahul Gandhi had met with veteran Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda and party president Sonia Gandhi spoke with Ghulam Nabi Azad twice over the phone. According to reports, the two leaders Rahul Gandhi and Hooda were said to have discussed reorganising the party, which has been a key demand of the G-23 rebel leaders in the Congress.

G-23 members meet at Ghulam Nabi Azad’s residence, pitch for collective and inclusive leadership

On Wednesday, the G-23 leadership had met at the residence of Ghulam Nabi Azad over dinner on Wednesday to discuss the future strategy. During the meeting, the G-23 members reportedly discussed how the only way for the party to move forward was to adopt a model of collective and inclusive leadership and decision making at all levels.

The G-23 leaders also urged the Congress leadership to hold talks with like-minded forces in order to pave the way for a credible alternative in the 2024 Lok Sabha election.

The meeting was to be held at Kapil Sibal’s residence but the venue was shifted at the last moment. Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari, Sandeep Dikshit, and Shashi Tharoor were among the leaders who attended the meeting. Tharoor’s presence in the meeting came as a surprise as several Congress leaders including Mukul Wasnik or Shashi Tharoor had stopped attending G-23 meetings as some members continue to question the high command. 

Since the Assembly election results for five states were announced on March 10, Congress leadership has been under pressure. With all hope of revival gone, the party’s senior leaders are reiterating their demand for control of the party to be handed over to someone other than the Gandhis.

‘Sab ki Congress’ instead of ‘Ghar ki Congress’: G-23 member Kapil Sibal asks Gandhis to step aside

Interestingly, on Tuesday, March 15, a day after the Congress Working Committee (CWC) had met, senior party leader Kapil Sibal, had fired salvos against Rahul Gandhi and the party’s high command. He questioned how Rahul Gandhi, who doesn’t hold any formal position in the party, went to Punjab and announced Charanjit Singh Channi’s name as the chief ministerial candidate. He also said that the Gandhis should step away from the leadership of the party.

Likewise, on Monday (March 14) during the CWC meeting, Sibal said it had been eight years since the party had lost the Lok Sabha elections. If the leadership still needed ‘Chintan shivir’ to find out what went wrong, they are living in cuckoo land. He further claimed that prominent party leaders in CWC genuinely feel that Congress would not survive without the Gandhis. He said in his personal view that he would want ‘sab ki Congress’ and not ‘Ghar ki Congress’. By ‘sab ki Congress’, he meant to bring old members who left and formed their parties together and fight against BJP.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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