Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who was among the 'group of 23' that wrote to Sonia Gandhi seeking urgent organisational overhaul, said on Thursday that it is the duty of all to work together in the interest of the party once the party chief has stated that the matter is "behind us". Tharoor had so far maintained a silence since the letter appeared in the media and was heatedly debated at the Monday meeting of the Congress Working Committee, which urged Sonia Gandhi to continue as party president and bring about organisational changes.
"I've been silent for 4 days on recent events in @INCIndia because once the Congress President says the issue is behind us, it is the duty of all of us to work together constructively in the interests of the Party," Tharoor tweeted. "I urge all my colleagues to uphold this principle & end the debate," he said. However, a resolution has been passed since then against one of the 23 signatories to the letter, Jitin Prasada, by a district unit of the party in Uttar Pradesh, while changes announced by Congress for its various positions in parliamentary party units are being seen as having ignored the seniority of several letter writers. This has also prompted many political watchers to warn of some imminent rebellion within the ranks and files of the party.
Another key member of the 'group of 23' Kapil Sibal tweeted earlier in the day that the the party needed to target the ruling BJP with "surgical strikes" rather than targeting its own, referring to Jitin Prasada, against whom a resolution was passed by the Lakhimpur Kheri district unit in Uttar Pradesh seeking disciplinary action for being a signatory to the much-criticised letter within top echelons of the party. The party's Lakhimpur Kheri, in its resolution against Prasada, accused him of "gross indiscipline".
Meanwhile, one of the senior most leaders in the 'group of 23', said they wrote the letter to the party chief because they felt that a "third person" coming in as an interim president in absence of a full-time and permanent president would harm the prospects of the Congress party. "No third interim president would have the authority to implement things; and the names doing the rounds as the interim President would have been a disaster," he told a TV channel, referring to Rahul Gandhi having first resigned as a president last year and then Sonia Gandhi having been appointed as an interim chief in August last year. "This letter was written to strengthen the party keeping in view our inner-party democracy," India TV quoted Azad as having said in the interview.
There should be some programme to galvanize the party if "we have to fight out the present BJP government", Azad said. After the seven-hour meeting of the party's top decision-making body, the CWC on Monday made it clear that no one will be permitted to undermine or weaken the party and its leadership.
The CWC resolution stated that inner-party be raised only within the party and not in media or public fora "in the interest of propriety and discipline". Some senior Congress leaders, including Sibal, Wasnik, Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari, had met at Azad's house in the national capital on Monday evening itself, soon after the CWC debated their letter. Sources said the 'group of 23' might meet again soon to devise their next course of action and they are expecting a lot more leaders to join them for safeguarding the party's interests and future prospects.
Having a "full time, active and visible" leadership, devolution of powers to state units and revamping the CWC in line with the party constitution are some of the key suggestions made by the 23 senior Congress leaders in the letter to Sonia Gandhi to revive the organisation.