Despite Sonia’s outreach, fissures grow in the Congress

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 23, 2020

Demand for introspection after Bihar polls continues to gather steam

Rumblings and murmurs of dissatisfaction over the Congress’s top leadership continued with renewed calls for “introspection” by the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and others. This despite the Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s attempt last week to accommodate differences by appointing senior dissenters including Azad in different internal advisory panels.

Sonia appointed Azad and other senior leaders including Anand Sharma and P Chidambaram, who have been openly critical of her handling of the party’s affairs in different committees on Friday, even as Azad fired a salvo on the “five star culture” among Congress leaders.

On Monday, in yet another detailed interview to the news agency ANI, Azad dismissed the appointments made by the Congress President as more or less “meaningless” and proceeded to underline the importance of revitalising the party by holding elections to all office-bearers’ posts — from the block and district level right up to the Congress President.

“I understand that organisational elections cannot be held while there is a pandemic raging across the country. In fact, some of us — including I and Chidambaram — had said such elections should be held within six months. Besides this urgent move, we also need to introspect about the way we function and our disconnect with the people,” said Azad.

The senior leader underlined that the same concerns had been voiced in a letter that he, along with 23 other senior leaders including Anand Sharma, Manish Tiwari et al – had written to the Congress President in August. This letter was followed by a stormy meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) in September which is filled with the Gandhi loyalists and Azad, who was more or less the lone representative of the dissenters in the ranks, was literally shouted down.

Subsequently, a committee was set up and Rahul and Sonia Gandhi themselves agreed to hold organisational elections. However, since then the Congress’s graph has come down even further with a dismal showing in the Bihar assembly polls and absolute ceding of ground to the BJP in the by-polls held elsewhere in the country.

Dissent strengthens

Following the Bihar polls, Chidambaram also talked publicly about the need to introspect joined by a vociferous Kapil Sibal who expressed deep concerns about the decline of the Congress. Anand Sharma and Azad have once again raised the concerns expressed in their letter in August.

Young vs Old Guard

There was no official response from either Rahul or Sonia Gandhi but their loyalists, especially the young appointees to the different frontal organisations of the Congress such as President of the Indian Youth Congress Srinivas BV. went on to twitter asking senior leaders to maintain discipline.

“The senior leaders who ought to follow discipline and show strength are busy tarnishing reputations. But our organisation is strong and will continue to remain strong,” tweeted Srinivas.

He also suggested that leaders such as Azad are part of the Congress’s problem not a solution.

Jo zakhm hai voh marham kaise ho sakta hai? Jo marham hai voh zakhm kaise ho sakta hai (How can the injury be the balm and how can the balm be the injury?” he tweeted.

Published on November 23, 2020

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