Loyalists trump dissenters as CWC decides Sonia to continue for now
New Delhi, Aug. 24 (IANS): After marathon and dramatic events in the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on Monday, the ‘loyalists have turned the tables on the ‘dissenters as the CWC has decided that Sonia Gandhi will continue as interim party chief till a new President is elected and the next meeting will be called in six months.
Party spokesman Randeep Surjewala said: “The CWC authorises the Congress President to affect necessary organisational changes that she may deem appropriate to take on the challenges listed above. In the light of the above deliberations and conclusions, the CWC unanimously requests Sonia Gandhi to continue to lead the Indian National Congress until such time as circumstances will permit an AICC session to be convened.”
“No one will be allowed to weaken the party and its leaders. The CWC makes it clear that no one will be or can be permitted to undermine or weaken the party and its leadership at this juncture. The responsibility of every Congress worker and leader today is to fight the pernicious assault on India’s democracy, pluralism and diversity by the Modi government,” said senior party leader K.C. Venugopal.
The CWC meet started with Sonia Gandhi offering to quit and Rahul Gandhi questioning the timing of a letter by the ‘dissenters’. As the message of Sonia Gandhi was read, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the first to request her to continue while A.K. Antony said the letter was “cruel”.
Rahul Gandhi questioned the timing of the letter as Sonia Gandhi was in the hospital at the time and the party was facing turmoil in its Rajasthan unit, said sources.
But in the CWC meet, the loyalists turned the table on the dissenters with Ambika Soni asking for action while Ahmed Patel asked “how such senior leaders can make such a mistake”, to which the dissenters said that they have not questioned the leadership but called for a revamp of the organisation, sources said.
Anand Sharma said that it is not indiscipline while Mukul Wasnik also referred to his services to the party. The dissenters also said that they have no objection to Gandhis’ leadership and praised Sonia Gandhi for her role in strengthening the party.
Controversy erupted during the seven-hour meeting several times after it was reported in a section of the media that Rahul Gandhi had claimed that the letter was written in “collusion with the BJP”, and on this senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal attacked Rahul Gandhi.
But later the party clarified its position and even Rahul Gandhi called up Sibal to clear the doubts. Later Sibal too retracted his earlier tweets and said he “was informed by Rahul Gandhi personally that he (Rahul) never said what was attributed to him. I therefore withdraw my tweet.”
Veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad too toed the same line, saying, “A section of the media is wrongly attributing that in the CWC I told Rahul Gandhi to prove that the letter written by us was in collusion with the BJP. Let me make it very clear that Rahul Gandhi has neither in the CWC or outside said that this letter was written at the behest of the BJP.”
He said he was responding to leaders outside the CWC and, sources said, specially to Haryana Congress leader Kumari Selja.
At the meeting, Rahul Gandhi was emotional and said that as a son he was quite disturbed at the timing of the letter to Sonia Gandhi.
But the leaders who wrote the letter said that they didn’t questioned Sonia Gandhi’s leadership.
The stage was set on Sunday when scores of leaders sided with the Gandhi family and the ‘dissenters’ were marginalised. Sonia Gandhi, at the end, said that the CWC leaders should work for the party without any prejudice and with a goal of strengthening the party and that she had no ill will and considered everybody as her family.