Only the Gandhis cannot be held responsible for the Congress’s recent election defeats, party veteran P Chidambaram has said, urging the G-23 ‘group of rebels’ to not split the party.
In a statement made to NDTV a day after G-23 met to call for an institutional rehaul, Chidambaram said Sonia Gandhi had offered to step down along with her children Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi at the meeting of the Congress Working Committee held to analyse the reasons behind the party’s defeat in the recently held assembly polls in five states.
“The Gandhis offered to step down, but it was not accepted by the CWC. So, what is our option now? We need to speed up the process to elect a new Congress president. But the earliest that that can happen is August. But what do we do between now and August? Till then we, including me, believe that Mrs Gandhi is leading the charge,” Chidambaram was quoted in the report as saying.
He claimed that Sonia Gandhi proposed advancing the election, but that most leaders disagreed.
“G-23″ leaders such as Kapil Sibal have openly called for the Gandhis to step down in order for the party to be resurrected. But Chidambaram said it was incorrect to blame only the Gandhis for the recent defeats.
He said the the Gandhis had already accepted responsibility, like he had accepted responsibility for Goa, and others did for other states.
“Nobody is running away from responsibility. But the responsibility lies with everybody in a leadership position, be it at the block, district, state and AICC (All India Congress Committee) level. It is not enough to say that the AICC leadership is responsible,” Chidambaram said.
On moves to revive the party, Chidambaram asked what was “drastic” as the elections would be held in three months.
“The Congress election is in August. Are you suggesting that we pick an interim president to replace an interim president (Sonia Gandhi) for three months,” he told NDTV, adding that he was sure in August the party would have a full-time leadership.
He said that between now and August all that that could be done was to take necessary and comprehensive reforms in the party organisation. “I believe Mrs Gandhi is doing that,” he said.
Chidambaram said he hoped there would be no split, while appealing to the G-23 leaders to not do the same. “My appeal to them would be to go back to their constituencies and build the party. Everyone should go back and rebuild party units,” he said.
While he said his party is prepared for the 2024 national election, the senior leader stated that it needs to make changes in order to defeat the BJP.
“Every party has to make adjustments. This applies to Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal as well. The fight will be state-by-state. In Bengal we have to fight with Trinamool in the leadership. In Punjab, we have to fight with AAP as leader. If you fight the BJP state-by-state, it will be possible to defeat it,” he said.
The Congress leader outlined the Congress’s shortcomings. “There is no party in many states. Block committees must be disbanded and reconstituted,” he said.
With inputs from News18