The venue for the Wednesday dinner meeting was supposed to be Kapil Sibal’s official residence but was later shifted to Ghulam Nabi Azad’s place. Sources say this was an indication that while the so-called Group of 23 rebels, or G23, was united and wanted to put pressure on the Congress, it didn’t support the demand that the party must move ahead without the Gandhis.
At the dinner meeting, the attendants munched over their future plans. The numbers of the group had seemingly swollen with many new faces like Mani Shankar Aiyar, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, and Preneet Kaur. It was decided to build a pressure group and attempts will be made to reach out to more disgruntled Congress leaders. A source from the meeting said, “We are confident more will join us as we don’t want the Congress to die. There are few loyalists left now and they don’t have much to offer.”
So what will the pressure group do? It will give suggestions to the Congress top leadership, i.e., the Gandhis, and put pressure for changes in the organisation. “The same people can no longer call the shots,” said the source.
But there was dismay and consternation when news came in of the formation of five committees by the party to look into the recent assembly poll losses and suggest changes. The anger was especially over one name, Ajay Maken.
Earlier in the day, Sonia Gandhi had met MPs from Punjab and almost all of them had said that state incharge Harish Chaudhary and Ajay Maken had messed up the game for the Congress also sold tickets. So there was indignation that one of the committee members who would work on the report card for the region that was lost continued to be Maken. A source said, “We mentioned him and she still made Maken one of the committee heads. Shows that they don’t care.”
The rise of the Aam Aadmi Party, which has dethroned the Congress in Punjab, was also cited as a cause for worry at the dinner.
The G23 issued a brief statement saying that the Congress top brass must consult like-minded leaders and also have an inclusive and collective leadership. The members at the dinner said they would have to be taken on board and cannot be ignored. The invitees also asked why the general secretary incharges had not given their resignations? And why was it that some people were allowed to get away? It was also asked why a new coterie was coming up comprising those who were failures in politics?
The dissenters plan to meet again soon to give a formal shape to the pressure group, as the last attempt is being made to assert themselves and save the Congress.
With inputs from News18