Protect the Essence and Idea of India: Sonia Gandhi

Sonia Gandhi said in CWC meeting that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir has come to represent a huge failure of the Modi government.

New Delhi:  As expected Congress President Sonia Gandhi attacked Narendra Modi-led Central government addressing a closed-door Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on Tuesday.

Sonia Gandhi, who chaired the meeting, reportedly discussed the current political situation and the presidential polls.

“We must be ready to protect the essence and idea of India, which this government is seeking to extinguish,” Sonia Gandhi said.

Claiming that the crisis in Jammu and Kashmir has come to represent a huge failure of the government, she said that these days there is a growing confrontation, tension and fear. Sonia said that there was relative calm in the Valley, but the ongoing unrest reflects the fears in the minds of people.

During the three years of the NDA government, there has been a “brazen campaign to straitjacket the whole country into a regressive and narrow-minded world view,” she said.

The meeting was attended by party’s Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Digvijay Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmed Patel.

According to party sources, the meeting was expected to ratify the schedule for organizational polls, which culminate with the election of Congress president.

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Rahul likely to take over in June-July

  • Sonia is set to effect generational shift in Congress
  • Rahul appears inclined to take the mantle
  • Seniors tell Sonia that young team has to run the party
  • Image makeover for RaGa in works

(K Kaushik)

New Delhi, January 16: Is the generational shift going to take place in the Congress? Is it about to happen in the middle of the year? The party sources say yes. The deliberations at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on Tuesday here gave enough indications that the senior leaders had told Gandhi’s that the change in the leadership has to be formalized as soon as possible. They made it clear that Rahul should lead from the front and Sonia should play the role of an advisor.

Sonia Gandhi, 69, who has been the longest serving president of the party, managing it for 17 years without break, is not in the pink of health. She has been delegating administrative powers to her son Rahul Gandhi (RaGa). Senior leaders who are in their late 60s or early 70s have made it abundantly clear to Sonia Gandhi that Rahul should be given the mantle so that he would have four years before the next general elections to run the party and establish himself as the sole arbitrator.

The seniors say it is time for the generational shift in the party which has to be prepared to face future challenges. Rahul Gandhi, 45, who has been considered a reluctant leader, has of late shown interest in running the party with his young team. His remarks at the CWC meeting that the elder leaders failed to connect with party rank and file resulting in loss of confidence in the leadership was taken as his inclination to take the reins. Senior leaders agreed that they are not in constant touch with the party workers at the ground level due to their age and health and said a more energetic leadership is required to reinvent, reorient and reenergize the party. They felt that Rahul should take over to dispel the gloom and uncertainty in the party.

Another CWC meeting is likely to be held in March and a big rally is being planned in Delhi during the budget session of parliament. Rahul Gandhi would be championing the cause of the poor and the farmers by giving a call to reisist the ordinances issued recently diluting the laws made by the UPA-II regarding land acquisition and mining. The party leaders feel that June-July would be ideal to have an AICC meeting in which Rahul could be formally anointed president of the party. The scion has been an MP, a general secretary of the party and also a vice president. To take over the rein from his mother would be a natural development. Since Narendra Modi would be completing one year in June and the honeymoon period would end, it is generally seen as a time at which the opposition could get into an aggressive mode. Rahul can run the show and get to know the ground realities in the run up to the next elections. This would also put an end to speculations on RaGa’s reluctance and the slogans like ‘Priyanka laom Congress bachao’ also would stop.

The image of youth icon that was assiduously built for RaGa did not obviously click and an image makeover is due. The work he has been doing till now as an MP and party leader in rural areas, Dalit bastis and Adivasi dwellings is sought  to be taken forward. To counter the rightist image being fast acquired by the Modi government, Rahul may have to move further Left and take up the issues that affect the poor and the lower middle class. He only has to take forward the pro-poor policies of his mother and a secular ideology without being ambiguous like his father RaGa who allowed shilanyas at Ayodhya and took a pro-Muslim fundamentalist stance in women’s case. It is time the Congress leadership learnt the lessons from innumerable past mistakes  in right earnest and stopped being too clever by half in trying to please all sections without a sturdy policy. The party needs to convey its sincerity of purpose and strength of resolve to be an alternative platform to that of the BJP. There is an urgent need for dumping the aged, corrupt and indecent leaders and cadres who have to be replaced by young, idealistic and clean politicians. It is a huge task and RaGa needs all the luck to succeed. The nation needs an opposition which is honest and vigorous.

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