So­nia stays in charge of Cong af­ter ac­ri­mo­nious CWC meet

LEAD­ER­SHIP Dis­sent let­ter-writ­ers face flak from col­leagues; CWC au­tho­rises So­nia to make or­gan­i­sa­tional changes

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - - Front Page - Sune­tra Choud­hury and Au­rangzeb Naqsh­bandi

NEWDELHI: The Congress Work­ing Com­mit­tee (CWC) on Mon­day re­solved that So­nia Gandhi will con­tinue as party pres­i­dent un­til an All In­dia Congress Com­mit­tee (AICC) ses­sion is con­vened, re­ject­ing the con­cerns raised by 23 Congress lead­ers who crit­i­cised the func­tion­ing of the party and asked for struc­tural changes in a con­tro­ver­sial let­ter whose con­tents be­came public last week.

The CWC — held in the back­drop of the first-ever show of dis­sent by prom­i­nent lead­ers against the party’s first fam­ily — au­tho­rised So­nia Gandhi to ef­fect any nec­es­sary or­gan­i­sa­tional changes, reaf­firmed its faith in both So­nia and for­mer pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi.

There was sharp crit­i­cism of those who signed the let­ter at the party’s high­est de­ci­sion-mak­ing body, which met for seven hours on Mon­day and wit­nessed stormy ex­changes be­tween the lead­ers.the dis­cus­sion fo­cused largely on the tim­ing of the let­ter, the in­tent be­hind it, and its leak; rather than on its con­tents.

Rahul Gandhi led the attack on the sig­na­to­ries by say­ing it came when the Congress was fight­ing political bat­tles in Mad­hya Pradesh and Ra­jasthan, and So­nia Gandhi was in hos­pi­tal. The CWC, in its for­mal resolution, also em­pha­sised that is­sues must be raised within party fo­rums in the in­ter­est of “pro­pri­ety and dis

cipline”, and not “through the me­dia or in public fora”.

Only four of the 23 lead­ers who signed the let­ter are CWC mem­bers, which made them el­i­gi­ble to at­tend the meet­ing — Ghu­lam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Mukul Wasnik and Jitin Prasada. At­tacked for crit­i­cis­ing the lead­er­ship, the dis­si­dents ex­pressed their sup­port for So­nia and Rahul Gandhi, claimed that the let­ter

was not in­tended to ques­tion the lead­er­ship of the Nehru-gandhi fam­ily, and it had been “mis­con­strued”, but as­serted that it had been writ­ten within the lim­its of a demo­cratic party.

Ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the con­tents of the let­ter, sent on Au­gust 7, a set of lead­ers — which also in­cluded Kapil Sibal, Shashi Tha­roor, Man­ish Te­wari, Bhupin­der Singh Hooda,

and Milind Deora, among others — crit­i­cised the lack of hon­est in­tro­spec­tion af­ter elec­toral de­feats, and asked for a full-time, ef­fec­tive, “ac­tive” and “vis­i­ble” pres­i­dent; elec­tions at all lev­els in the party (in­clud­ing the CWC); es­tab­lish­ing an in­sti­tu­tional lead­er­ship model to col­lec­tively guide the party; and a na­tional coali­tion with like-minded par­ties, among other steps.

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