'Find a new party chief,' Sonia Gandhi tells Congress after letter calls for 'sweeping changes'
The letter by senior party leaders has sparked off an intense debate within the Congress, with some leaders backing the Gandhi family and others calling for change
Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi has asked party members to find a new chief and expressed her desire to step down from the post, reports said. Sonia is said to have made these statements in a response to a letter by 23 senior Congress leaders, including chief ministers, sitting MPs and former Union ministers, calling for sweeping changes in the organisation.
According to Hindustan Times, Sonia asked the leaders who signed the letter to get together and find a new chief as she does not want to carry out the responsibilities of her post any further.
The letter by the senior leaders has sparked off an intense debate within the Congress party, with some leaders backing the Gandhi family and others calling for change.
Among those who have backed the Gandhis are Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel and Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot
Singh said, "The move by these Congress leaders to demand a rehaul of the party at this critical juncture would be detrimental to its interests, and the interests of the nation."
"What the Congress needs is a leadership that is acceptable not just to a few but to the entire party, through its rank and file, and the nation at large," he said, adding that the Gandhis were the right fit for this role.
"Sonia Gandhi should continue to helm the Congress as long as she wants," he said, adding that Rahul Gandhi should thereafter take over as he is fully competent to lead the party.
Baghel, in a statement on Twitter, said, "Sonia ji and Rahul ji are a ray of light in every challenge for us. We are all with you. Party workers and citizens in Chattisgarh as well as the country as a whole are with you. The country is presently in a period of crisis and only your leadership can offer the solution."
हर चुनौती में हमारे लिए उम्मीद की किरण माननीय सोनिया जी और आदरणीय राहुल जी हैं। हम सभी आपके साथ हैं। छत्तीसगढ़ और देश के करोड़ों कार्यकर्ता और देशवासी आपके साथ हैं।
देश जिस संकटपूर्ण दौर से गुज़र रहा है उससे आपके नेतृत्व में ही छुटकारा मिलेगा। pic.twitter.com/kBjdSK5sgU
— Bhupesh Baghel (@bhupeshbaghel) August 23, 2020
Gehlot also heaped praise on the Gandhi family, saying it has kept the party united and the letter written by senior Congress leaders over party leadership is an unfortunate move.
He said the leaders who are said to have written the letter have worked with the party for long and this was not expected of them.
"Democracy is under threat and a struggle for saving democracy is going on and therefore, we should not step back. The Gandhi family has kept the party united and in the time of crisis; we need them," he said.
In a similar vein, party leader and former Union law minister Ashwani Kumar has said that the need of the hour is for the Congress to stay united. "This is not the time for an electoral exercise which is potentially divisive. At this point of time and considering the extraordinary situation in the country, the need of the hour is to close ranks," Kumar was quoted by Hindustan Times as saying.
On the other hand, the leaders who called for 'sweeping changes' in the organisation include Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad; party MPs and former Union Ministers Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor; MP Vivek Tankha; AICC office bearers and CWC members including Mukul Wasnik and Jitin Prasada and former Chief Ministers and Union Ministers including Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Rajender Kaur Bhattal, M Veerappa Moily, Prithviraj Chavan, PJ Kurian, Ajay Singh, Renuka Chaudhary, and Milind Deora; former PCC chiefs Raj Babbar (UP), Arvinder Singh Lovely (Delhi) and Kaul Singh Thakur (Himachal); current Bihar campaign chief Akhilesh Prasad Singh, former Haryana Speaker Kuldeep Sharma; former Delhi Speaker Yoganand Shastri and former MP Sandeep Dixit.
Letter had rued 'absence of direct dialogue'
The letter by senior party leaders focussed on the erosion of Congress’ support, especially among the youth, and mentioned the rise of the BJP and Sangh Parivar’s “communal and divisive agenda”. The signatories argued that it the party’s revival is imperative at a time when the country faces the “gravest political, social and economic challenges since Independence”, India Today reported.
It added that the committee was unable to guide the party out of troubled times, recommending organisational elections from the block-level up till the highest level. The leaders have given various suggestions in the letter, including constituting a Central Parliamentary Board for “collective thinking”, the need to unite Opposition parties and the role of state Congress presidents.
These leaders argued that in the absence of a direct dialogue with the Congress chief over strengthening of the party, revival of the party has become imperative in the interest of democracy in the country.
Meanwhile, some leaders close to Rahul Gandhi have also written to the CWC pressing for the Gandhi scion's return as chief.
"Gandhis are the symbol of sacrifice. Decision by Congress CWC was a majority decision reflecting the will of 1100 AICC, 8800 PCC members, five crore workers and 12 crore supporters who want Rahul Gandhi as their leader," party MP Manickam Tagore said, referring to the 2019 decision of the CWC to name Sonia Gandhi as party president after Rahul declined to accept a unanimous CWC appeal to stay in the post.
Apart from Tagore, Challa Vamshi Chand Reddy, ex Telangana lawmaker and AICC secretary in charge of Maharashtra has also asked for the promotion of Rahul Gandhi as Congress president without any further delay.
With inputs from PTI
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