The grand old party of Congress is on a slippery slope as the 23 Congress dissidents/leaders who had written an explosive letter to Sonia Gandhi in early August have now taken a rogue approach to get their demands heard by party high-command. According to a report in Times of India, the G23 is likely to issue regular statements on national issues independent of the official party platform, a move that may appear designed to show gaps and deficiencies in the party’s articulation of criticism of the Modi government.
The group of dissidents is of the purview that policy statements focused on the Centre were required to send out a message to the Congress party itself as well as to its political rival-BJP.
The dissidents have been particularly miffed with Congress scion Rahul Gandhi’s immature comment of taking back Ladakh in ‘15 minutes from China’. The lack of maturity from the top party brass and, in particular, Rahul Gandhi ends up doing more damage to the party. Another member of the group said that personalized comments about PM Modi again showed a lack of finesse from the Wayanad MP.
According to the report, the G-23 is developing a core group of select functionaries who are confabulating amongst themselves on the future steps while a major chunk has taken a back seat for different reasons.
The 23 senior leaders had written a letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi in early August, asking her for “sweeping changes” in the party. The list included five former chief ministers, sitting MPs Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari, members of Congress Working Committee and over a dozen former union ministers with years of political experience.
Acknowledging the rise of the BJP and admitting that the youth had decisively voted for Narendra Modi, the letter pointed out that the erosion of the support base and losing the confidence of the youth were matters of serious concern.
The letter had called for a “full time and effective leadership” which is both “visible” and “active” in the field; elections to the CWC; and the urgent establishment of an “institutional leadership mechanism” to “collectively” guide the party’s revival.
At the beginning of the Congress Working Committee meeting, interim president Sonia Gandhi had offered to resign, after the letter came out in public eye. However, former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and ex-Defence Minister urged her to continue as president of the Congress party.
Speaking at the meeting, Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi lamented that the dissenting letter had been sent at a time when his mother was in the hospital. Thereafter, he had reportedly accused the signatories to the letter of colluding with BJP, resulting in a major crisis within the party.
The Rahul Gandhi camp had alleged that the 23 dissenting members had “betrayed” Congress by going to the media. After Ghulam Nabi Azad and Kapil Azad took objection to Gandhi’s allegation and tweeted their stance, Congress went into damage control mode.
Azad was quoted by news agency ANI as calling for wide-ranging organizational elections, arguing that an “appointed” Congress leader will not have the support of even 1 per cent of the party. Without elections, Azad had warned, “Congress will continue to sit in the opposition for the next 50 years.”
The infighting between the Congress is expected to level up as the G23 starts to issue their independent line on the national issues. If one letter had caused Rahul Gandhi to dub his old partymen as ‘traitors’ then one cannot help but wonder what will the Congress scion now call them after the rebel bloc goes their separate way.