Twenty-three senior Congress leaders, including chief ministers, sitting MPs and former Union ministers, have written to interim party chief Sonia Gandhi calling for sweeping changes in the organisation, according to several media reports.
The letter, sent a fortnight ago, calls for full time and effective leadership, visible and active in the field, elections to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and an “institutional leadership mechanism” aimed at the party’s revival, Indian Express reported.
The letter also states that CWC meetings are now convened only according to political developments, apart from Sonia’s customary address and the obituary references, as per the newspaper.
As per Indian Express, the signatories to the letter include Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad; party MPs and former Union Ministers Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor; MP Vivek Tankha; AICC office bearers and CWC members including Mukul Wasnik and Jitin Prasada and former Chief Ministers and Union Ministers including Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Rajender Kaur Bhattal, M Veerappa Moily, Prithviraj Chavan, PJ Kurian, Ajay Singh, Renuka Chaudhary, and Milind Deora; former PCC chiefs Raj Babbar (UP), Arvinder Singh Lovely (Delhi) and Kaul Singh Thakur (Himachal); current Bihar campaign chief Akhilesh Prasad Singh, former Haryana Speaker Kuldeep Sharma; former Delhi Speaker Yoganand Shastri and former MP Sandeep Dixit.
Focussing on the erosion of Congress’ support, especially among the youth, the letter mentioned the rise of the BJP and Sangh Parivar’s “communal and divisive agenda”. The signatories argued that it the party’s revival is imperative at a time when the country faces the “gravest political, social and economic challenges since Independence”, India Today reported.
It added that the committee was unable to guide the party out of troubled times, recommending organisational elections from the block-level up till the highest level. The leaders have given various suggestions in the letter, including constituting a Central Parliamentary Board for “collective thinking”, the need to unite Opposition parties and the role of state Congress presidents.
“Another possibility that is being talked about in party circles is that a senior leader of the stature of Dr Manmohan Singh or AK Antony could be asked to lead the party,” a party source told India Today.
News of the letter comes ahead of a Congress Working Committee meet on Monday convened to discuss the current political situation in the country and the leadership issue.
While Sonia has completed a year as interim chief, the Congress said in a media briefing that a new party president will be elected soon, even as workers across the country called for Rahul Gandhi’s election to the post, PTI reported.
Suspended Congress leader Sanjay Jha tweeted around 8.15 am:
And Randeep Surjewala called me a “ BJP stooge”. He denied the letter. Here it is:
“First pushback: 23 senior Congress leaders stand up, write to Sonia Gandhi calling for sweeping changes “| India News,The Indian Express https://t.co/2rPwZDSYHI
— Sanjay Jha (@JhaSanjay) August 23, 2020
News of the letter first hit the headlines after after Jha,who was earlier sacked as spokesperson and later suspended from the party, on Monday took to Twitter to claim that a hundred leaders had petitioned Sonia Gandhi over the state of affairs in the Congress. Jha had tweeted:
It is estimated that around 100 Congress leaders (including MP’s) , distressed at the state of affairs within the party, have written a letter to Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Congress President, asking for change in political leadership and transparent elections in CWC. Watch this space. — Sanjay Jha (@JhaSanjay) August 17, 2020
The Grand Old Party had rushed to deny Jha’s claims with AICC chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala saying it was a BJP-motivated move aimed at deflecting attention from the Facebook issue.
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
“Special Misinformation Group on Media-TV Debate Guidance” in its what’sapp of today directed to run the story of a non existant letter of Congress leaders to divert attention from Facebook-BJP links.
Of course, BJP stooges have started acting upon it.
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) August 17, 2020
With inputs from PTI