CWC asks Sonia Gandhi to continue as interim chief, effects changes

Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi

Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi 


The seven-hour long Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, called to discuss the turmoil within the Congress not only turned fiery but also witnessed day-long orchestrated protests and demands that Sonia Gandhi should continue as the party president

New Delhi: The seven-hour long Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, called to discuss the turmoil within the Congress not only turned fiery but also witnessed day-long orchestrated protests and demands that Sonia Gandhi should continue as the party president.

The day of drama and denials ended with CWC passing a resolution asking Sonia Gandhi to continue as party president till the next session of the AICC was convened, may be six months from now indicating that the 'Khandaan' was in no mood to quit. The dissenters feel that CWC lost a chance of starting the process of revamping the organisation.

The CWC in its resolution called the party cadre to strengthen the hands of the Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and fight against divisive politics. It also said that inner party issues cannot be raised at public forum. It authorised Congress president to make organisational changes if she feels need for it.

It said no one will be allowed to weaken the party structure. However, no action is likely to be taken against the 23 leaders whose letter stirred a storm in the party.

It may be mentioned here that Sonia Gandhi had not resigned officially as Congress president on Monday. She only made a one-line statement that she was willing to step down. This led to massive divide in the party. While all her supporters, including former Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh and A K Antony and others urged her to continue, Rahul Gandhi and host of other leaders took on 23 senior Congress leaders who wrote a letter seeking overhauling of the party structure.

Man Mohan Singh and AK Antony set the stage for isolation of letter-writers, four of whom, including Ghulam Nabi Azad are part of the CWC. Ahmed Patel also joined the chorus.

Rahul Gandhi questioned the timing of the letter by a section of the party and attacked them for going public against the leadership, saying differences need to be discussed in party platforms and not in the media. He also insinuated that the letter seeking leadership changes was written in cahoots with the BJP, as it came at a time when Sonia Gandhi was hospitalised and the party was fighting with the BJP in Rajasthan to save its government, sources said.

The charge invited sharp rebuttals from Azad and Sibal at the meeting. They said they would resign if any such link with the BJP was established, the sources said.

At this point, the Congress got into damage control and clarified that Rahul never said anything like that. Later Both Sibal and Azad withdrew their tweets.

Peek into past

1969: Dissent and split in Congress is not new. It has been through such turmoil in the past too. In 1969, the tussle between then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the old guard known as the 'Syndicate' reached a tipping point as Indira backed independent candidate VV Giri in the Presidential election. The party's official candidate, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, lost and the party split and the then Congress president S Nijalingappaexpelled Indira Gandhi.

1990: When a non-Gandhi, PV Narasimha Rao had to be made the Prime Minister in 1990, a rebellion took place and ND Tiwari and Arjun Singh left the party and launched a new party.

1998: There was a rebellion in Congress against Sitaram Kesari as the party president in 1998. tT was well orchestrated to install Sonia Gandhi as the president.

The Dissenters

Veterans -- Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, former Chief Minister's Bhupendra Singh Hooda, Prithviraj Chavan, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, former Minister Mukul Wasnik, Kapil Sibal, M Veerappa Moily, Shashi Tharoor, MP Manish Tiwari, former MP Milind Deora, Jitin Prasad and Sandeep Dixit. The letter also signed the former heads of party units Raj Babbar, Arvinder Singh Lovely, Kaul Singh Thakur, Akhilesh Prasad Singh and Kuldeep Sharma.

CWC Durbaris

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and former ministers Ashwani Kumar, Salman Khurshid and KK Tewary, among others backed Gandhis.

A day in Congress Party

Sonia offers to step down (no letter given)

♦ Former Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh and a few other leaders urge her to continue

♦ Rahul raises questions on timing of letter by dissenters. Attacks them for making party-related issues public. Says their acts are helping BJP

♦ Ruckus over collusion with BJP

♦ Ghulam Nabi Azad explains why he wrote the letter and offers to resign for being accused of colluding with BJP

♦ Kapil Sibal also offers to quit if charge of colluding with BJP proved

♦Party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala clarifies that Rahul Gandhi had not said any such thing

♦ Sibal withdraws tweets

♦ Ghulam Nabi Azad also made it clear that Rahul Gandhi has not made such an allegation

♦ CWC starts drumming up support for Rahul to take up responsibility

♦ Robert Vadra's "chela" Jagdish Sharma with his handful of followers stages a show demanding that Sonia continue as president

♦ Finally CWC decides that Sonia Gandhi will continue as party president till AICC session was called

Drama @ 24 Akbar Road

While the Congress Working Committee meeting at 24 Akbar Road turned fiery and witnessed a massive divide with some wanting complete revamp of the party organisational structure and others strongly supporting the continuation of the Gandhi family hegemony, a well-orchestrated move by one Jagdish Sharma, a close aide of Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law, Robert Vadra. Carrying placards like "Gandhi ke alawa adhyaksh manzoor nahi (nobody is acceptable as president except Gandhi)" and "Gandhi pariwar ke alawa koi adhyaksh bana, toh party toot hi jayegi (if anybody outside the Gandhi family becomes chief, the party will break).

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