New Delhi: Congress leaders are not getting adequate space to express themselves freely within the party, says Mani Shanker Aiyar while suggesting if Rahul Gandhi is not willing to take the responsibility, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra should take over as Congress president “as the last case scenario”.
With the Congress in a crisis, following the fall of its government in Madhya Pradesh, Aiyar stressed on the need for a full-time party president and said if the current interim president Sonia Gandhi can carry on then she should or else Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Gandhi Vadra should hold fort.
“There is an immediate need for a full-time president and it could be Rahul or as a last case scenario Priyanka. If Rahul decides to take on the responsibility and resumes I will be quite happy,” the senior Congress leader said.
On the chorus within the Congress’ younger generation that they are not being heard, following Jyotiraditya Scinidia’s defection to the BJP, Aiyar said there has been no space in the party to air grievances.
“As there is no adequate space within the party to express themselves freely many speak out. As Manish Tewari had suggested we need to have a series of Pachmarhi camps of 1998 that will allow Congressmen and women to express themselves freely within the party forums,” he told ThePrint.
In 1998, the Congress had held brainstorming sessions in Madhya Pradesh’s Pachmarhi soon after Sonia Gandhi had taken over as the party president.
Aiyar, also a former union minister, told ThePrint that not only the young leaders, but the ambitions of older ones are also being thwarted in the Congress and that the party needs to provide a platform to them within the organisation to express themselves freely.
“Ambitions of both young and old have been thwarted. One needs to express oneself freely and there is not adequate party space to do so,” Aiyar said.
Had slammed Scindia’s departure
The senior Congress leader had slammed Scindia for defecting to the BJP. In an opinion piece published in The Indian Express today and titled A time to stay, Aiyar has argued that the Congress was at “long last rediscovering its voice” and hence party leaders should seize the moment and not defect to the other side.
“Running away now is on par with the Scindia Maharaja deciding to field forces on behalf of the British against the Rani of Jhansi and Tatya Tope,” he wrote. “Gwalior was defended by one brave woman with her son strapped to her back. 1858 redux? “Khoob ladi mardani/ Woh to Jhansi wali rani thi.”
He further wrote that “it was only in December last that Scindia was proclaiming the CAA to be violative of the ‘Constitution and culture of India’”.
Current team of secretaries does not ‘inspire confidence’
Aiyar also criticised the current team of Congress general secretaries, saying they were not inspiring at all. “The leadership is coming from right on top or from the Congress Working Committee (CWC). Even the CWC is not what it was before. Where are the strong regional leaders now?” he asked.
The lack of strong region Congress leaders, he said, has led to revolts in the state units. “The fact that the top leadership’s control is weak is why there are all these revolts in the legislative party taking place in various states,” he added.
He also stressed on the fact that as there are no party forums available, the statements that are coming from leaders are from outside the party forum.
“Apart from those who are part of the Congress Working Committee, other leaders don’t get an opportunity to air their concerns,” he said. “The leadership needs to not only give them an opportunity to raise their concerns but at the same time it needs to listen to them”.