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'Called Traitors, Letter Not Shared': Kapil Sibal on Alienation of Group 23 at Congress Meeting

File photo of Congress leader Kapil Sibal.

File photo of Congress leader Kapil Sibal.

No leader stepped in when those who wrote the letter were attacked, said Kapil Sibal, recalling his experience at the Congress Working Committee meeting held after the letter was written.

Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, one of the 23 people who wrote a letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi, seeking reforms in the party, said on Saturday that none of the concerns raised by them were addressed or even shared at the Congress Working Committee meeting.

No leader stepped in when those who wrote the letter were attacked, said Sibal in an interview to the Indian Express, recalling his experience at the CWC meeting held after the letter was written.

Twenty-three senior leaders had written letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi, asking her for “sweeping changes” in the party. The list includes five former chief ministers, sitting MPs Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari, members of Congress Working Committee and over a dozen former union ministers with years of political experience.

Sibal told IE that the Congress needed a 'de jure and a de facto president' and that the concerns expressed in the letter should be addressed immediately.

He said that while the Indian National Congress has always accused the BJP of not following the Constitution and destroying the foundation of democracy, the group, in turn, merely wanted adherence to the party's Constitution. "Who can object to that,” he said in the report.

He said the country's politics needed more than just loyalty. Adding to that loyalty, there was needed merit, inclusiveness, and commitment to the cause, Sibal said, while adding that there should be the ability to listen and have a dialogue.

In the letter, the signatories sought a full time and effective leadership, elections to the CWC, and the setting-up of an institutional leadership mechanism to guide Congress' "revival".

Sibal said the fundamental thing which should have happened at the meeting is the CWC being apprised of what the letter said. If there was a fault in the letter, then the group could have been questioned, and the group should be questioned, he said.

He said the fact that there was no talk of substance, but talk of either the timing of the letter or that it was written itself, was an example of distancing oneself from the cause. "And that has what has happened," Sibal said, and added that not one request of the members, or concern reflected in the letter was addressed in the meeting, and that yet they were called dissenters.

He said in the course of the CWC meeting, the letter's signatories were called "traitors" and that nobody sitting at the meeting including the leadership, came to their aid at such uncivilised language being used, despite the letter being very civilised.

Sibal said no Congress leader had come to support the 23 yet because in politics, people said something publicly and thought otherwise, privately.

He said that people across the country, despite whether they belonged to the Congress, expressed appreciation for their concerns. "So, obviously, there is a public sentiment which appreciates our desire to rejuvenate the Congress," he told the Indian Express, adding if that the Congress was not there, the opposition was not there. He said the INC needed to be the lynchpin around which the wheel of the opposition revolved.