Letter vs letter: After 23 Congress leaders question leadership, others come out in support of Sonia Gandhi
Many leaders of the Congress wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi suggesting overhaul of the party. Sonia responded saying all of them should get together and find a new chief as she does not want to carry out the responsibilities any further.
The storm over leadership issue in the Congress seems to be taking a massive form. After a letter from 23 leaders of the party calling for sweeping changes in the organisation, another group has come out in support of current party president Sonia Gandhi.
The 23 leaders, including former chief ministers, members of the party’s highest decision-making body the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and sitting Members of Parliament, have suggested far-reaching changes including dissolution of powers to state units and revamping the CWC.
The leaders said in the letter that over-centralisation of the organisation and micro-management has always proven to be counter-productive. They said that the party has witnessed a steady decline reflected in successive electoral verdicts in 2014 and 2019, noting that the reasons were manifold.
The letter stated that even after 14 months of the 2019 verdict, the Congress party has not undertaken “honest introspection” to analyse the reasons for its continued decline.
Sonia Gandhi responded to the suggestions in the letter, which was written early this month, saying that all of them should get together and find a new chief as she does not want to carry out the responsibilities any further, people familiar with the development said.
In her response, Gandhi has told them that she was not interested in leading the party once again when the CWC on August 10 requested her to assume the reins of the organisation again, a senior functionary said on condition of anonymity.
Shortly after her response, the host of other leaders released statements and letters, supporting Sonia Gandhi and her leadership.
Senior Congress leader and former law minister Ashwani Kumar said it is wrong to question her unifying leadership. “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 said.
Other leaders like Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh opposed the bid by some Congress leaders to challenge the Gandhi family leadership of the party, saying this was not the time to raise such an issue, given the need for a strong Opposition against the BJP-led NDA that was out to destroy the country’s Constitutional ethos and democratic principles.
Terming the demand for leadership change as untenable, the chief minister noted the immense contribution of the Gandhi family to the country’s progress. “What 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.
The latest Congress leader to offer his unwavering support to Sonia Gandhi is Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the leader of the party in Lok Sabha. “We would like to convey to you that this belief in your leadership has the backing of millions of Congress workers and supporters across the country.”
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, who recently wriggled out of a political crisis, also supported the Gandhi family.