Amid Rajasthan crisis, Cong warns leaders over Twitter war | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Amid Rajasthan crisis, Cong warns leaders over Twitter war

Aug 03, 2020 12:09 AM IST

New Delhi: The Congress on Sunday stepped in to check a war of words between seniors who served as ministers in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and young leaders considered close to former party chief Rahul Gandhi, cautioning both sides against playing “Twitter-Twitter.” Both sides were told to air their views only on organisational platforms and not on social media.

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The party’s media department head Randeep Singh Surjewala was asked by the top leadership to rush to Delhi from a trip to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan and address a news conference to ask the warring leaders to refrain from escalating the matter, a Congress leader said on condition of anonymity.

Rahul Gandhi has been upset by media reports suggesting a deep divide within the party between the seniors and young leaders and “unwarranted” criticism of the UPA government, the leader said.

“Rahul Gandhi does not appreciate people making an issue out of a non-issue. He wanted an immediate end to this so-called old versus young divide debate and the Twitter war over UPA’s performance and subsequently Surjewala rushed to Delhi,” the leader added.

Surjewala and party colleague Ajay Maken had been camping in Rajasthan for the past three weeks to deal with a crisis faced by the Ashok Gehlot government following a rebellion by former deputy chief minister and state Congress president Sachin Pilot and 18 other legislators.

“I will advise friends who are playing Twitter-Twitter to stop making comments on social media. We have internal democracy and you should present your views at the appropriate party platforms,” Surjewala said, addressing a news conference at the party headquarters in Delhi.

The advisory to stop open mud-slinging in the social media came a day after four former ministers – Anand Sharma, Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor and Milind Deora -- came out to defend the ten-year tenure of Manmohan Singh as PM and the UPA government following critical remarks against the former ruling coalition by young Congress leader Rajeev Satav, considered close to Rahul Gandhi.

At Sonia Gandhi’s meeting with party’s Rajya Sabha members on Thursday, Satav suggested introspection over the UPA II tenure that, he said, was responsible for the party dropping to an all-time low of 44 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Satav was responding to senior leader Kapil Sibal’s call for introspection within the party for not being able to corner Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) despite their “failures to tackle Covid-19 pandemic and counter Chinese transgressions and the setback on the economic front.”

Surjewala conveyed the leadership’s message in no uncertain terms to both the sides - that no one can question former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and there were no differences between him and Rahul Gandhi who “owns up {to} and stands by each and every decision” of UPA I and II.

Apart from communicating that Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were on the same page as far as the UPA’s decisions, policies and programmes are concerned, Surjewala also sought to assuage the feelings of the seniors by recognising their contribution to the party.

“Senior leaders have much more responsibility. They have done excellent work in the government and the party organisation. In the time of economic crisis, Covid-19 pandemic and Chinese intrusions, they should stand together with Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh and show the mirror to the government. It is also their responsibility to guide the young leaders, promote and also make way for them,” Surjewala said.

On Sunday, except former Madhya Pradesh Digvijaya Singh and Lok Sabha MP Manickam Tagore, who later deleted his tweets, no other leader commented on social media about the ongoing tussle in the party.

“I agree. He (Rahul Gandhi) is different and wants to do politics differently. We should allow him to do so but then we also would like him to be more active in Parliament and more accessible to people. As advised by {Nationalist Congress Party chief} Sharad Pawar he should go around India.‘Yatras are important to connect,” Singh said in response to a tweet by a Congress member.

At the press conference, Surjewala listed the achievements of the UPA government in its 10-year rule and referred to the rural job guarantee scheme, the Right to Information Act, the Food Security Act and the Right to Education Act.

“The UPA government did remarkable work but couldn’t take on the conspiracy hatched against it,” he said and criticised the people behind the anti-corruption campaign led by social activist Anna Hazare that damaged the image of the coalition.

Without taking names of Puducherry lieutenant governor Kiran Bedi, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, former Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai and Yoga guru Ramdev, he alleged that they worked under the guidance of the BJP and Modi with Hazare, who was the face of the campaign and has since been “dumped in a village” in Maharashtra.

Meanwhile, a day after Gehlot said he would embrace rebel Congress legislators if they apologised to the party high command, the Congress on Sunday asked Pilot to spell out his position unequivocally and hold a conversation.

“Sachin Pilot must come and hold a conversation first. Pilot must come out and state his position clearly and unequivocally first and only then can any talk of his return happen,” Surjewala said.

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