Congress leaders met at Sonia Gandhi’s home this morning, hours ahead of a meeting of the party’s top decision-making body over its latest state election defeats. Amid fresh questions on leadership, the Congress may advance its internal elections.
The massive rout in the five states has revived searing criticism of the Gandhi family and demands for a complete overhaul and leadership change – a demand that may no longer be confined to the “G-23” or group of 23 “dissenters” who had written to Sonia Gandhi two years ago.
Sources say the Congress organisational elections to select a new party chief, scheduled in August-September, may now be advanced by two-three months, in the Congress Working Committee or CWC meet today.
The Congress has categorically denied that the Gandhis – party chief Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra – will resign at the meet.
Many internally predict yet another futile exercise in the name of “introspection” with the CWC – in which Gandhi “loyalists” easily outnumber “dissenters” – widely expected to steer clear of hard decisions. There are only three members from the “G-23” in the CWC – Anand Sharma, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mukul Wasnik.
The party is yet to act on the Ashok Chavan committee report that analysed the reasons for the Congress defeat in Kerala and West Bengal last year. The committee, which was also tasked with recommending reforms, submitted its report in July last but it was never discussed or even shared with the CWC, say sources.
Rahul Gandhi, who stepped down as Congress president after the party’s second straight national election defeat in 2019, does not hold any official post in the party but continues to call the shots. Decisions taken by him and his sister Priyanka Gandhi in states like Punjab and Uttar Pradesh are being blamed for the party’s poll disaster.
“There will be no course correction,” said senior Congress leaders who have been speaking out within the party against the Gandhis’ leadership but do not want to come on record.
Some of the dissidents met at veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s home on Friday evening and reportedly discussed the way forward, expressing dismay at the Congress leadership for not taking any corrective steps to revive the party.
However, Gandhi family loyalists have defended the leadership. In an interview with NDTV, the party’s top troubleshooter DK Shivakumar on Friday said the Congress cannot be united without its first family and it was “impossible” for it to survive without them.
Just hours before the CWC meet today, the Congress Parliamentary Strategy Group met to discuss the strategy for the Budget Session of the Parliament, which resumes tomorrow. The meet, held at Sonia Gandhi’s house, was attended by Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Anand Sharma, K Suresh and Jairam Ramesh.
With inputs from NDTV