Sonia and Rahul speak to leaders who wrote letter | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Sonia and Rahul speak to leaders who wrote letter

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Aug 26, 2020 12:30 AM IST

A Congress functionary said on condition of anonymity that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi called up some of the senior leaders -- among the group of 23 who wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi asking for structural changes in the party -- and conveyed to them that they hold no grudges.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and senior leader Rahul Gandhi spoke to some of the dissenting leaders, including leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, after Monday’s stormy meeting of the Congress Working Committee in a bid to address the prevailing unrest in the party, people familiar with the developments said.

Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi and his mother and party president Sonia Gandhi arrive to attend Prime Minister Narendra Modi's swearing-in ceremony at the presidential palace in New Delhi.(REUTERS)
Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi and his mother and party president Sonia Gandhi arrive to attend Prime Minister Narendra Modi's swearing-in ceremony at the presidential palace in New Delhi.(REUTERS)

A Congress functionary said on condition of anonymity that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi called up some of the senior leaders -- among the group of 23 who wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi asking for structural changes in the party -- and conveyed to them that they hold no grudges.

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The leaders who wrote to Sonia Gandhi included Azad, Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Jitin Prasada, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Mukul Wasnik, Manish Tiwari, Shashi Tharoor, and Prithiviraj Chavan.

Also read: Shiv Sena slams Cong MLAs’ protest, calls it akin to questioning Sonia and Rahul

In the letter, they demanded a complete overhaul of the organisation, a full-time president and constitution of a parliamentary board that will include the Gandhi family as the “collective leadership” if Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were not willing to accept the party chief’s post.

The people cited above said that the calls were a follow-up to Sonia Gandhi’s concluding remarks at the CWC meeting when she said that she has no “ill-will” and let bygones be bygones and the need of the hour is to fight against those who are “failing” the country -- in an apparent reference to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“We are a large family. We have differences and different views on many occasions, but, we come together as one. The need of the hour is to fight for the cause of the people and the forces that are failing this country. Organisational issues are always addressed within the organisation. And the process of constitution and reconstitution is a continuous one,” she said.

“I do not hold any ill-will against any colleague or any other thought of any other nature, for I treat all of you as part of the family. Irrespective of how hurtful the remarks or in the past many years of any colleague may have been, I have always risen above them to keep the Congress family together and to fight for the cause of the people,” the Congress chief added.

Also read | Congress turmoil: A look at past instances involving ‘letters’

Rahul Gandhi had called up Sibal on Monday during the CWC meeting after the former Union minister tweeted in response to media reports claiming that the former Congress chief had said the dissenters were colluding with the BJP.

Sibal later withdrew his tweet, saying that Rahul Gandhi had clarified that the reports were incorrect and that the words attributed to him were wrong.

The Congress functionary quoted in the first instance said that Sonia Gandhi will soon form a committee that will help her in the party’s day-to-day functioning.

The functionary indicated that it will be a small panel that will share Sonia Gandhi’s burden till a session of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) is held within six months if the Covid-19 situation improves by then and a new party president elected. “For the AICC session, ways and means have to be devised,” he said.

The decisions were taken at the CWC meeting where Sonia Gandhi was asked to continue on the post till a new president is elected.

After the seven-hour meeting in which 48 of the 52 members came down heavily on the four letter-writers present in the meeting – Azad, Wasnik, Sharma and Prasada -- Sonia Gandhi agreed to continue but said this arrangement cannot remain open-ended as the new party chief has to be selected soon.

She also asked leaders, especially the seniors, to desist from raising organisational issues outside the party forum.

On Tuesday, many signatories took to twitter to refute those calling them “dissenters”.

“Friends, we are not dissenters but proponents of revival: the letter was not a challenge to leadership but a parchment of action to strengthen the party: universally truth is best defence whether it be Court or Public Affairs: history acknowledges the brave & not the timid,” tweeted party’s Rajya Sabha member Vivek Tankha.

Anand Sharma agreed with him and said their intention was to convey “shared concerns” over the present environment in the county and it was done with the best interest of the party in their hearts.

“Well said. The letter was written with the best interest of the party in our hearts and conveying shared concerns over the present environment in the country and sustained assault on the foundational values of the constitution,” Sharma said in response to Tankha’s tweet.

Wasnik also responded to Tankha’s tweet. “Well said. Sooner than later those who saw the letter as an offence will also realise that the issues raised are worth consideration,” he tweeted.

Sharma further said that having a “full time, active and visible” leadership, devolution of powers to state units and revamping the CWC in line with the party constitution were some of the key suggestions made by the 23 leaders in their letter to Sonia Gandhi to revive the organisation.

Earlier in the day, Sibal posted a cryptic tweet, saying: “It’s not about a post. It’s about my country which matters most.”

A leader belonging to the group of dissenters said they were satisfied with the outcome of the CWC meet but would wait and watch before deciding about their future course of action.

Former Union minister M Veerappa Moily, who is also one of the signatories, said they were sorry if their action had hurt Sonia Gandhi’s feelings. “If we have hurt her feelings, we are sorry for it,” Moily said, asserting they never questioned her Gandhi family leadership.

However, he defended being a signatory to the letter saying there is a need for rejuvenating and restructuring the party.

Moily also disapproved of the media leak of the letter and called for an internal party enquiry to find out those behind it and wanted them to be punished.

“Soniaji is like a mother to the party. There is no question of any intention to hurt her feelings. If we have hurt her feelings, we are sorry for it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sonia Gandhi will also interact through video-conferencing with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, four Congress chief ministers – Ashok Gehlot (Rajasthan), Captain Amarinder Singh (Punjab), Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh) and V Narayanasamy (Puducherry), Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and his Jharkhand counterpart Hemant Soren on the GST, NEET and JEE issues

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