Voices against the elevation of Rahul Gandhi as the Congress president grew with senior Congress leader Amarinder Singh on Saturday saying the leadership should remain with Sonia Gandhi as a generational change cannot be done with a knife.
"You cannot just make a generational change with a knife and cut them through. You have to gain experience by individually meeting people across the country and maintain people-to-people contact," Amarinder said.
He insisted that people should gain experience and move upwards as "raw people cannot move upwards". Replying to a question about voices about continuance of Sonia as the party chief, Amarinder said he agreed with this perception at a time when the party was down with the worst-ever tally of 44 seats in Lok Sabha but it needs someone with experience and ability to take you back to the top.
"It is a personality-based election now. Sonia is the leader of the Congress and after we have come down to such levels, only under the leadership of a leader like her can the party move upwards. I think she has the capacity to lead the party up from here. Let Rahul be the number two and play that role to eventually take over the party later," Amarinder said.
Asked why Rahul alone cannot be given the leadership, he said he needs more experience and he should go round and build his image in the country just like what Indira Gandhi had done after the party's debacle post-Emergency.
Amarinder also said that Priyanka Gandhi should enter active politics and work together with Rahul Gandhi as a team under the presidentship of Sonia. "I think she must join active politics now. I don't know why a lot of people feel that she should not. She is a very bright and forthright lady and she would compliment her brother also. Both can work as a team together to help take the party to greater heights," he said.
Singh rejected criticism of Rahul Gandhi's sudden "leave" and insisted that the Congress vice-president was "not a write-off" and that he will be at the top "someday".
"As a vice-president, he should work closely with the Congress president. And the Congress president should retain her position because she is the person who every Congressman in the country will follow today," Singh said. Singh also said that "old generation" leaders are there in other parties like Sharad Yadav of the JD(U) and Sitaram Yechury in the CPI(M).
"I do not think that they would have gone along with Rahul," Amarinder said referring to the protest march of over a dozen parties on the land bill to Rashtrapati Bhavan, which was led by Sonia Gandhi last month.
Party spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit had earlier said that Sonia Gandhi is the "leader" for "99% of" partymen and she is needed at the helm at this time more than ever in the past.
Defends Rafale deal, hits out at Swamy
New Delhi: Congress' deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Capt Amarinder Singh defended the Rafale jet deal with France as he hit out at Subramanian Swamy. "Swamy's statement is obviously for settling scores with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not being taken into the cabinet. Put your personal agenda aside for a while as this concerns the nation's defence and security," said Amarinder.
Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh dared Swamy to go to court against the government.