With a slew of senior Congress leaders, in their joint letter to party president Sonia Gandhi, calling for a comprehensive overhaul of leadership in the party at every level and for sweeping reforms, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Sunday opposed “the bid by some Congress leaders to challenge the Gandhi family leadership of the party”.
Rising to the defence of the Nehru-Gandhi family, dubbed as the “Congress party’s first family”, Capt Amarinder said this was not the time to raise such an issue, “given the need for a strong opposition against the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) that was out to destroy the country’s Constitutional ethos and democratic principles”.
The veteran Congress leader said the NDA’s success was attributable to the absence of a strong and united Opposition and that the move by these Congress “dissenters” to demand an overhaul of the party leadership at this critical juncture would be detrimental to the party’s interests and the interests of the nation.
Terming the demand for leadership change as “untenable”, the Punjab CM noted the immense contribution of the Nehru-Gandhi family to the country’s progress since it achieved freedom from the British rule.
What Congress needs is a leadership that is acceptable not just to a few but to the entire party, through its rank and file, and the nation at large, Capt Amarinder said, adding that the Gandhis were the “right fit” for this role.
Sonia Gandhi should continue to helm the Congress as long as she wanted, he asserted, adding that Rahul should thereafter take over as he was fully competent to lead the party.
At a time when the very bedrock of India’s Constitutional strength was under threat, it was important for every Congress man and woman to stand firmly and unitedly behind the Gandhis, who had held the party together all these decades and could continue to do so, said Capt Amarinder.
There was currently no leader in the Congress who could give the party that kind of strong leadership, he said, urging one and all to put the interests of the party and the nation above their own.
The Gandhis were the “only universally recognisable face of the Congress, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari”, the CM stressed.
Electoral defeats could not be the yardstick for leadership change, he said, adding that just because the Congress was down at the moment did not mean the Gandhis’ contribution to its growth could or should be undermined.
The BJP rose from two parliamentary seats to lead the country, he pointed out, adding that the Congress will rise again, and that too under the leadership of a Gandhi.
In a recent letter to Sonia Gandhi, more than 20 senior party leaders have sought discussion over the leadership issue, referring to the internal crisis in the party. The letter calls for an honest introspection, collective leadership and stresses that the “youth are losing confidence” in the party.