The appointment of Mallikarjun Kharge, the loyalist of the Gandhi family, as the leader of Rajya Sabha, has led to infighting in the Congress party. The 23 leaders (popularly known as the ‘G-23’) who have written to Sonia Gandhi asking for sweeping changes, are not happy with another Gandhi family loyalist being appointed to the senior post.
Ghulam Nabi Azad, former leader of the Congress party in Rajya Sabha, was one of the 23 leaders who have written the dissent note against the high command of the party, asking for sweeping changes. Other senior leaders included Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, and Shashi Tharoor. The 23 leaders who have written the dissent note were pushing for Anand Sharma, who is a senior leader and former union minister, to be appointed as the leader of the party in Rajya Sabha. However, Sonia Gandhi wanted a family loyalist to be placed on an important post. Therefore, she went ahead with Kharge even at the cost of one Rajya Sabha seat.
“The Congress seems to be digging itself into a deeper hole. In two months, three seats are going to fall vacant in Kerala. The Congress-led UDF can win one seat. But it is going to the Muslim League. I am told the Muslim League was agreeable to give the seat to the Congress if Azad was the candidate. But our central leaders were not keen…Azad commanded the respect of leaders across opposition,” said a senior Congress leader expressing his anger towards the appointment of Kharge.
According to senior Congress leaders, the Gandhi family did not want the senior posts to go to leaders of the Hindi heartland due to fear of a coup. “Both of them are in the doghouse because of the letter. But what about Chidambaram,” a leader said.
“In Lok Sabha, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdury and deputy leader Gaurav Gogoi are both from eastern India. In Rajya Sabha, we will now have a leader from South India….what message are we giving to the Hindi heartland,” he added.
Therefore, Anand Sharma and Kapil Sibal, both senior party leaders and very good orators – but also signatories to the dissent leader – were denied the post. Kharge thanked Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi for showing trust in him again.
“I will try to come up to their expectations as I have worked and done for five years in the Lower House…When I worked for five years in the Lower House and 10 years as CLP leader in the Karnataka Assembly…I took everyone along. I will try to come up to the expectation of the party, leaders and MPs,” Kharge said.
The appointment of Kharge has left the ‘G-23 leaders’ rattled and, one can expect action-packed time in the coming weeks because these leaders would try to come up with a strategy to take on the Gandhi family.