Congress dissenters’ letter outlines 11-point agenda for internal reforms
Uncertainty over leadership has weakened the Congress and demoralised its workers, the controversial letter written by 23 leaders to party president Sonia Gandhi on August 7 said, warning the high command of erosion in its support base with the desertion of functionaries across states.
The letter, snatches of which were first reported on Sunday, outlined an 11-point agenda to usher in reforms in the 134-year-old organisation, called for an introspection of the reasons behind the party’s “steady decline”, and appealed to the Congress to take the initiative for the formation of a “national coalition of democratic and secular forces” against the Centre’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“Even after 14 months of the 2019 electoral verdict, the Congress Party has not undertaken any honest introspection to analyse the reasons for its continued decline,” said the letter, of which HT has a copy.
The Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest decision-making body, was not guiding the organisation effectively in building public opinion against the BJP, according to the letter. The “institutional process of merit-based and consensus-backed” selection had been disrupted, it added.
The letter, considered critical of the high command, sparked a heated discussion at a CWC meeting on Monday with Congress leaders mounting an offensive on the signatories. Just four of the 23 signatories — Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Mukul Wasnik and Jitin Prasada — are part of the 52-member CWC.
After a seven-hour, high-decibel debate at the CWC meeting, the party authorised Sonia Gandhi to effect any necessary organisation changes, and reaffirmed its faith in her and her son Rahul Gandhi.
On August 10, 2019, CWC named Sonia Gandhi the party’s interim chief after Rahul Gandhi, who preceded her as the Congress president, turned down calls to withdraw his resignation in the wake of the 2019 Lok Sabha election rout.
“We have witnessed a steady decline of the Congress Party reflected in successive electoral verdicts in States and General Elections in 2014 and 2019. Reasons are manifold and need to be immediately identified. Otherwise, the Congress Party will find itself marginalized, both in the States, which is already apparent, as well as at the national level,” the letter said. “The uncertainty over the leadership and the drift has demoralised the Congress workers and further weakened the Party...,” it added.
At the same time, the letter-writers acknowledged the role of the Nehru-Gandhi family to make the Congress a formidable force in Indian politics.
“We acknowledge the resolute struggle, the visionary leadership and notable contribution of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. His enduring legacy will always remain a source of guidance and inspiration for the Congress party. The Nehru-Gandhi family will always remain an integral part of the collective leadership of the Congress party,” the letter said, while also appreciating the leadership of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.