The Congress party is imploding. Party stalwarts have finally grown a spine to dissent against the grand old Gandhi family, in whose hands the sole authority of Congress has rested post-independence. In the year gone by, the party’s sham of a leadership, and the Rahul Gandhi and family’s unwillingness to take the backseat has often been attributed as a primary reason behind its rout in two consecutive Lok Sabha elections and multiple assembly polls. The states which the party had won were mainly due to the local leaderships alone, and when states which were won are predictably lost by the party, commentators are quick to point at the absence of strong central leadership to fill the multiple deficits faced by the Congress.
A dissent letter seeking radical changes in the Congress party, particularly in the leadership lies at the centre of the war which has broken out today between family-loyalists and those who would rather remain loyal to the party. The letter, signed by the Congress’ 23 senior-most stalwarts including the likes of Shashi Tharoor, Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Milind Deora, etc had asked for “sweeping changes” in the party.
In line with the same letter, which called for “full time and effective leadership”, which was both “visible” and “active” in the field, interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi offered to quit the top post and asked the CWC to initiate the process for selecting a new, full-time Congress chief. Sonia loyalists, which include the likes of former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and others like AK Antony no less, erupted in wholehearted support of her continuance as the party President.
Rahul Gandhi, meanwhile, took to venting his frustration against those stalwarts who penned the letter. Rahul Gandhi also reportedly questioned the timing of the dissenting letter, saying the letter was sent to the party chief at a time when she had not been keeping well. He said the letter came at a time when the “party is fighting the Bharatiya Janata Party in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.”
Also, initially there were reports that Rahul Gandhi accused the Congress leaders of colluding with the BJP. This invited sharp reactions. Veteran leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad and Kapil Sibal were left aghast at such statements being reported out of the CWC meet.
The said statement made allegedly by Rahul Gandhi was widely reported by the media. Therefore, it came as a rather surprising shock for many when the Congress refuted all such attributions made to Rahul Gandhi, and instead blamed the media. Amid sharp reactions to Rahul Gandhi’s reported allegation that signatories of the letter were in cahoots with the ruling BJP, the Congress put out denials, subsequent to which Kapil Sibal deleted his rather aggressive tweet against the former Congress President.
Kapil Sibal took to Twitter to express his shock over the alleged statement made by Rahul Gandhi, and said, “Rahul Gandhi says we are colluding with the BJP. Succeeded in Rajasthan High Court defending the party. Defending party in Manipur to bring down BJP government. Last 30 years have never made a statement in favour of BJP on any issue. Yet, “we are colluding with the BJP!”.
Tweet which Kapil sir is referring. pic.twitter.com/yp8z8nfHsi
— Sumit Agrawal ( 2 Months now Justice for Sushant) (@infocric) August 24, 2020
Ghulam Nabi Azad, in a challenge to Rahul Gandhi, said that he would quit all his current posts if the allegation of him colluding with the BJP could be proven. Azad later denied this comment.
A section of media is wrongly attributing that, in CWC I told Shri Rahul Gandhi to prove that the letter written by us is in collusion with BJP-“let me make it very clear that Shri Rahul Gandhi has neither in CWC nor outside said that this letter was written at the behest of BJP"
— Ghulam Nabi Azad (@ghulamnazad) August 24, 2020
Sh. Rahul Gandhi hasn’t said a word of this nature nor alluded to it.
Pl don’t be mislead by false media discourse or misinformation being spread.
But yes, we all need to work together in fighting the draconian Modi rule rather then fighting & hurting each other & the Congress. https://t.co/x6FvPpe7I1
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) August 24, 2020
It is as clear as it can get. Sonia Gandhi has lost her grip over the Congress party. If the “old vs new” guard tussle wasn’t already enough, it now emerges that the Congress is also divided in the middle between those who are religiously loyal to the party, and those who live only for serving the family running it. As for Rahul Gandhi and the Congress’ denial of a statement he may or may not have made, it is abundantly clear that the party realised early on that the statement in question could spell an unmitigated disaster for the party, one which would be impossible to quell.