Maharashtra Congress minister Sunil Kedar initiated a war of words after he reiterated that at least three senior Congress leaders must apologise for raising questions on Gandhi family’s leadership.
The three leaders mentioned in his tweet – Prithviraj Chavan, Milind Deora and Mukul Wasnik chose to remain silent over the harsh statement.
“I whole-heartedly support Hon Sonia Gandhi ji as president. It’s shameful on Mukul Wasnik, Prithviraj Chavan and Milind Deora to raise questions on leadership of Gandhi family. These leaders must apologise for their act immediately. Otherwise, Congress workers will see how they move in the state freely. Congress can give fight to BJP govt only when party has Gandhi as its head. This is high time to stand firmly behind Soniaji’s leadership,” Sunil Kedar tweeted late last night.
A senior Congress leader came out in support of Kedar’s statement but opined that the language was too harsh. “This is the sentiment of the cadres in the State. We want Rahul Gandhi to be at the helm. Though Sunil Kedar’s statement comes across as very rude, he has reflected our sentiments. He shouldn’t have talked about this so openly. But Congress is a democratic party. So everyone is vocal with their opinion,” he said on condition of anonymity.
Sources close to the leaders who wrote the letter to Congress leadership on August 7, seeking a full-time willing president for the party, said the controversy was unnecessary.
“It was an internal letter written to point out the issues in the party. It was strictly confidential. The concern was that the party should have a full-time, willing, working president,” a senior leader said on condition of anonymity. However, the discussion is based on the contention that a faction of Congress does not want Rahul Gandhi to be at the helm of the affairs.
“That is not the case. The case is that the party should be headed by someone who is available full-time and is willing to handle the responsibility. A president can’t say, he won’t meet a specific leader for a few months. He or she cannot be available for party affairs. If Rahul Gandhi is willing to take back his resignation and is willing to accept the role, nobody has any problem,” a Congress leader said.
After Sonia Gandhi has made it clear that she will not be the party president, the party is in turbulence over the choice of the next leader. “Sonia Gandhi had agreed to be an interim president. It is a stop-gap arrangement, it cannot go on for a year or more. She has already clarified that due to health reasons, she won’t continue,” he added.
In Maharashtra, several senior Congress leaders in the state who have served some of the top positions in politics now lie sidelined.
Meanwhile, like a few other Congress committees, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee too passed a resolution seeking that if Sonia Gandhi steps down, Rahul Gandhi should take over the control of the party.
“The senior Congress leaders of Maharashtra have hereby unanimously resolved that madam Sonia ji Gandhi should continue as it is only because of her leadership our party came in power. She has made several sacrifices to rebuild the party and is still very actively involved in all the decisions pertaining to the party…. In case she refuses our request, we would seek Shri Rahul Gandhi to immediately take over as the AICC president,” stated the resolution passed by Balasaheb Thorat and seconded by Ashok Chavan.