A three-line cryptic letter written by Ghulam Nabi Azad to Congress president Sonia Gandhi during the last week’s Punjab fiasco where he asked on behalf of the G23 to call for an urgent Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting over the presidential election issue. The Congress quickly responded that the meeting would be called soon, however, no timeline was decided nor indicated.
The letter was preceded by a phone call with some of the G23 members, and it was decided that “enough was enough” and they would not remain silent for long.
According to sources, some of the G23 members want the fight to go further. They say they don’t want to be seen as spectators but as people concerned about party’s affairs.
Sources say some of the G23 members are of the view that even though they are aware of the outcome, they still want to prove a point by contesting elections for the Congress president’s post. A senior member of the group told News18.com, “This should not be seen as a rebellion rather an attempt by us to show that the Congress is democratic and allows space for an alternative view unlike the BJP.” But in private, they concede that this would not go down well within the party and could even lead to a split between the G23 and so-called loyalists.
But the catch here is when Jitin Prasada’s father Jitendra contested opposite Sonia Gandhi in 2011 for the post of party president, it did create a flutter. Interestingly, this happened in the backdrop of a few Congress leaders opposing Gandhi having the control of the party because they felt she did not have it in her to become the Congress president. Though Jitendra lost, many dissenters said it was a fixed match. Gandhi, however, made Jitin a minister in 2004 during the UPA rule going despite many cautioning her. Clearly, Sonia wanted to send the message that she bore no ill will.
While the G23 criticism of Gandhis is not too scathing, it’s clear that they realise that their time may soon be up within the party; at least for a few of them. It’s a wait-and-watch situation for many of the G23 members some of whom have a little hope of being politically placated or rehabilitated. Others, however, are finding space amidst anger that a time when the Congress is on a back foot in Punjab and the leadership of Gandhis is being questioned, senior leader Kapil Sibal should have avoided holding a press conference.
Now, with Captain Amarinder Singh not mincing words, the tide of perception is turning against the Gandhis and the loyalists are trying hard to stop it.
There is a prevailing sense that Rahul Gandhi wants a change to take place soon within the party where his team and the new lot of young leaders take the charge. Therefore, leaders such as Jignesh Mevani and Kanhaiya Kumar were brought into the party fold to “replace” the old guard who may be dissenting. The battle lines are clearly drawn.
With inputs from News18