New Delhi: The logjam within the Congress continues even after Congress president Sonia Gandhi along with senior leaders met some of G23 letter writers. The letter writers also stood their ground, demanding that the issues they had raised in their August letter should be addressed at the earliest.
These issues include a “decisive, active and visible” leadership, as well as sweeping changes in the party’s working. After a marathon five-hour meeting, the party agreed to hold a brainstorming session or a “chintan shivir” soon so that all issues can be discussed. The G23 leaders, besides seeking wide-ranging reforms, decentralisation of power, empowerment of state units, elections to the Congress organisation at all levels from the block to the CWC, and the urgent constitution of a central parliamentary board, also argued that uncertainty over the leadership had demoralised workers and weakened the Congress.
The G23 leaders present also added that to their dismay they were being termed as helping the BJP while they only wanted to strengthen the Congress.
One of the leaders said: “We are one family … we cannot look away if we see that there are issues in our party. Our only aim is that the ills ailing our party should be addressed.” They also added that most of them have given their entire lives to the party and cannot go against the party, but pressing issues need to be raised. The further reiterated that they have been at the forefront of attacking the Narendra Modi government and many “motivated cases” have been foisted on them. This meeting was held over four months after the letter was written.
Insiders claim that Mrs Gandhi heard the entire gathering patiently and said that more such interactions will take place.
Addressing the media after the meeting, senior leader and acting treasurer Pawan Kumar Bansal said the discussions centred mainly on strengthening the party. He said the process for holding organisational polls, including to the party president’s post and the Congress Working Committee, has already been set in motion and the central election authority was working on it.
“There is already an election process in motion. There is an agenda before the party. The CEA is working on it,” he said. Mr Bansal said Mrs Sonia Gandhi told the leaders that all of them are a “very big family” and they should strive to strengthen the party.
Sources say that at the meeting some leaders like Ambika Soni and A.K. Antony said Rahul Gandhi should take over as party chief, to which Mr Gandhi said that he wants to strengthen the party first “or as all of you desire”.
Former Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan, one of the letter writers who was part of the meeting, said: “This was the first meeting on how to strengthen the party. A conclave on the lines of Shimla and Panchmarhi will happen. We discussed the future of the party and it was a constructive meeting.”
The G23 attendees included Ghulam Nabi Azad, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Anand Sharma, Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewari, Prithviraj Chavan and Vivek Tankha. In addition, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi, Kamal Nath, Ambika Soni, A.K. Antony, Ashok Gehlot and Pawan Kumar Bansal were also present.