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Can’t deny top Congress leadership inaccessible — Aiyar, Chacko, Shastri back letter to Sonia

Senior Congress leaders Mani Shankar Aiyar, P.C. Chacko, Anil Shastri and others said they are in “full and complete agreement” with the demands raised in letter.

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New Delhi: Multiple Congress leaders, who aren’t signatories to the letter written to Sonia Gandhi demanding a leadership overhaul, have come out in support of its content, saying they are in “full and complete agreement” with the demands being raised.

“I am disappointed that the signatories did not approach me, or I would very happily have joined them in signing that letter,” former Union minister Mani Shankar Aiyar told ThePrint.

“I do not see this as revolt, but as an attempt by concerned Congress people to rally the Congress towards significant changes, which should precede any major campaign the party undertakes,” he added.

In an unprecedented move, at least 23 senior Congress leaders, including former chief ministers and Union ministers, and sitting MPs and Congress Working Committee (CWC) members, wrote to Sonia, demanding a “full time and effective leadership”. 

This was followed by Sonia communicating to her party colleagues Sunday that she is stepping down as the interim party president, and that the CWC should take up the issue of a new leader. 

Some of the signatories of the letter include party MPs and former Union ministers Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari and Shashi Tharoor. Certain leaders, perceived to be Gandhi family loyalists, such as Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, have also signed on the letter. 

Aiyar said the fact that the party ‘bigwigs’ have chosen to sign the letter “adds heft to it”. 

Also read: Why Gandhi family loyalists in Congress are turning against Rahul

‘Any party with common sense would bring non-Gandhi leader’

P.C. Chacko, senior leader and former in-charge of the Congress’ Delhi unit, told ThePrint the feeling expressed in the letter “cuts across states and age groups”. 

“Congress leaders from across different states, and belonging to different age groups feel this way,” Chacko told ThePrint.

Several regional heavyweights, such as Bhupinder Singh Hooda from Haryana, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal from Punjab, M. Veerappa Moily from Karnataka, Prithviraj Chavan from Maharashtra and Milind Deora from Maharashtra, P J Kurien from Kerala, have signed the letter. So have CWC member Mukul Wasnik and special invitee Jitin Prasada from Uttar Pradesh, among others.

“Rahul made it clear after the party’s 2019 defeat, that a non-Gandhi should be made president,” Chacko said. “It was clear that BJP would continue attacking the Gandhis and any party with common sense would have listened to Rahul, but they went ahead and made Sonia Gandhi the president.”

Chacko added that Sonia’s health permits her to travel and meet with people “only so much”. 

“A non-Gandhi party president would have acceptability only to a certain degree, that is true. But it is still better than constantly having to face attacks for a Gandhi-Nehru leadership,” Chacko added.

Senior leader Anil Shastri said the problem has arisen because “the top leadership is not easily accessible at all”. 

“There has not been an AICC meeting in 5-6 years. Ironically, we used to hold more meetings when we were in power than we do now when we are in opposition,” Shastri, who is the AICC chairman of the Hindi department, told ThePrint. 

He added that “half the battle will be won if the party leadership makes itself more accessible”. 

“If a district president of the party comes to Delhi to meet any of the top leadership — not just the Gandhi-Nehru family but other top leaders also — it is very difficult. That is the cause of this disconnect,” said Shastri, son of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri.

Within the Gandhi family, Shastri said, he thinks Priyanka Gandhi “knows the mood of the people the best”.  

Also read: Fort Modi is impregnable despite China, Covid, job losses. Only one leader can defeat him

Khurshid says letter was not needed

Senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid said he had no objection with the content of the letter but all such demands should be kept “within the party”. 

“If you are in the CWC and you write such a letter when you can very well communicate this in person, I don’t get it,” Khurshid told ThePrint. “That’s not asking for much, just common decency.”

Former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi and former Rajya Sabha MP B.K. Hariprasad refused to comment on the letter, saying it is an “internal party matter”. 

Some leaders, however, came to the Gandhi family’s defence — most notably Punjab CM Amarinder Singh and Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel.

Singh said it would be a mistake to undermine the family whose “selfless commitment and unimaginable sacrifices” had allowed the Congress to stand “like a rock in the path of the BJP and its ambition to divide the country on the lines of caste and religion”.

He has also said electoral defeats could not be the “yardstick for leadership change”. 

Baghel too adopted a similar line, saying the Gandhi family’s leadership alone will help the country in these “troubled times.”

“For every challenge, Soniaji and Rahulji are the beacons of light,” he tweeted out his statement. “We are all with you. Congress workers in Chhattisgarh and crores from across the country along with citizens are with you.”



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  1. The family wants a person with Gandhi Surname as Congress President. While a section of the party, including some seniors, want a non-Gandhi as president.
    I suggest a compromising formula. Appoint some prominent person with experience and clean image as Congress President and then ask him to adopt Gandhi as surname. Both groups will get what they wish.

  2. Credible opposition is the basic need of a democratic system. At least for the theatrics why can’t the Congress conduct an inner party election. It may happen they may be voted back. Very disapointed.

  3. I am a common citizen and I will not vote for the Congress for the simple reason that it’s corrupt and is not good for the security of the nation,post 26/11 can any of the pundits and Congress supporters tell me what was done to punish the perpetrators of that heinous crime and it was the sacrifice of the ASI Tukaram Ombale that got us ajihadi alive otherwise we would have lost that point too and Pakistan would have denied that too.So I will never vote for the Congress

  4. I am surprised that the author of this article forgets that reviving congress just doesnt mean making Rahul or Sonia or Ms Vadra as its President. That doesnt give automatic acceptability to the masses. What about the humongous corruption of last many years under congress rule ? What about the blatant appeasement politics where the congress Prime Minister saud that the first right to India’s resources belongs to the minorities ? What about Rahul’s statement that the danger to India is from the Hindus ? Congress also wanted to bring a blatantly partisan communal violence bill and the way it was drafted was clear that the targets were the majority. Will people of this country forget all this while voting ? Does the author think that voters can be easily fooled by appointing President of the congress party ? Will the party’s DNA change if the leaders remain the same ? I wonder if the so called journos even think before they write. They see amd perceive congress through their own prism, their own experiences of being the beneficiaries of congress’s crumbs and superimpose these thoughts on the people thinking that people think in the same way as they themselves think about the congress. If these journos had their way Modi would have never been the PM.

  5. After Independence the Congress is become party limited to Nehru-Gandhi family. Interestingly the current generation people are not original Nehru-Gandhi parivar. Earlier Congress is used to sell more fake news with their organizational skills and manpower about the achievements. They took granted the OC’s and made all policies around minorities for votes. They are successful in propagating without Gandhi’s there is no one can rule the country. Now the days are changed people have technology in hands and BJP is now successful in spreading more fake news than Congress and exposing the facts about the congress mistakes. To counter these facts Congress has no mass leader or organization to reach out to the people. Earlier they used to work for Nation , now Sonia as president Congress interested only in Power Hungry , Congress has lost ideology under Sonia. If any one can see how Congress can stoop to low level for Power in state after state. Once Congress blamed DMK for Rajiv Gandhi bomb blast incident, but later they are in alliance with the same party and turned blind eye when DMK involved in 2G Spectrum. Madhu Koda was an independent MLA and Ex-BJP MLA. Because of power hungry in Jharkhand they made Madhu Koda as Chief Minister. He simply looted the State resources under Congress monitoring. Andhra was one of the powerful state for Congress for decades. But simply to come to power they ruined the state by Dividing AP into Andhra and Telangana just before the elections. like so many this kind of mistakes happened under Sonia as Congress President. I hope Congress men will introspect and give farewell to Sonia Gandhi to get strengthened in the coming days.

  6. Mr Amarinder Singh spoke about the family’s “selfless commitment and unimaginable sacrifices”.
    Mr. Baghel said “Soniaji and Rahulji are the beacons of light”.
    Isn’t this proof enough for those who are questioning the Gandhi Family’s leadership?

  7. Mr. Aiyar, Mr. Chacko & Mr Shastri are in senior leadership positions. Their claim that leadership is inaccessible is plainly false. They really have nothing to complain about. Sonia ji,’s leadership, Priyanka Ji’s organisational skills in UP and Rahul Ji’s strategic vision will see the Congress through this challenging period.

  8. So Shri Sanjay Jha was correct and the multiple times electorally defeated, Shri Randeep Surjewala was not. In any case it takes special skills of disconnect with reality to come third in two horse race.

  9. Revive the ideology and plan to make a foot soldier base for the ideology… Gandhi family is no more in the position to attract masses ans neither the stories of freedom struggle will fetch vote from voters of 21st century digital India. Congress ideology up to 70s revolved around glory of freedom struggle then it turned person centric during Indira period. Post Indira death it simply become family centric… Congress needs enormous energy and wade through uncertainty to rebuild a strong ideology which is different from Hindutva which can attract masses enough amid news media too working as polarizing force in support of Hindutva

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