Even as the party leadership has claimed to have resolved the internal conflict, it does not seem so as the Congress unit in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri on Wednesday passed a resolution, criticising former Union minister and party’s brahmin face Jitin Prasada and demanding action against him for being one of the signatories of the “dissent” letter written to Sonia Gandhi.
“The District Congress Committee (DCC) demands that disciplinary action should be taken against all those who signed the letter and they should be expelled from the party,” said the resolution passed by Lakhimpur Kheri district Congress committee, according to a report in Hindustan Times.
“All over UP there is only one leader, former minister Jitin Prasada, who has signed the letter. His family has been against the Gandhi family. His father the late Jitendra Prasad had contested the election against Sonia Gandhi. Despite this, Sonia Gandhi gave him a Lok Sabha ticket and he was made a minister. His act is gross indiscipline and action should be taken against him,” said the resolution.
In the wake of the latest development, Kapil Sibal, who was also among the 23 dissent letter writers, has criticised the UP Congress for targeting Jitin Prasada.
“Unfortunate that Jitin Prasada is being officially targeted in UP.
Congress needs to target the BJP with surgical strikes instead wasting its energy by targeting its own,” Sibal said in a tweet.
Manish Tewari, another signatory of the letter, responded to Kapil Sibal’s tweet with a single word “Prescient!”
Around 23 top Congress leaders, including former Chief Ministers, MPs, former Union Ministers and CWC members had written a letter to Sonia Gandhi on the issue of leadership change and elections in the Congress Working Commitee.
The letter called for an urgent need for “full time and effective leadership”, which is both “visible’’ and “active’’ and an “urgent establishment of an institutional leadership mechanism” to “collectively guide the party’s revival’’.
It also asked for decentralisation of power, elections in the party at all levels and empowerment of its state units.
The letter was reportedly signed by many senior leaders of the party including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Prithviraj Chavan, PJ Kurian, Renuka Chaudhary, and Milind Deora.
Following this, on Monday, Sonia Gandhi requested the party to relieve her from her current role and asked the Congress Working Committee (CWC) members “to begin deliberations toward the process of transition to relieve her from the duty of party president”.
After a marathon seven-hour long meeting, the party decided that Sonia Gandhi will remain party chief, at least for the next six months.
It has reportedly set a time frame of six months for a session of the All India Congress Committee to search for the new chief as Sonia Gandhi has made it clear that she is not willing to continue at the post any more.
Meanwhile, at the meeting, former party chief Rahul Gandhi had reportedly accused the dissent letter writers of “colluding with the BJP.” He said he was “hurt” as the letter was leaked when the party was fighting the political battle in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
In quick response, Ghulam Nabi Azad said he will “resign if found to be guilty of colluding with the BJP”.
Responding to Rahul Gandhi’s accusation, Kapil Sibal said the signatories have “never made a statement in favour of BJP on any issue in the last 30 years”.
“Rahul Gandhi says we are colluding with BJP. Succeeded in Rajasthan High Court defending the Congress party. Defending party in Manipur to bring down BJP Government. Last 30 years have never made a statement in favour of BJP on any issue Yet “we are colluding with the BJP!” Sibal said.
Sibal, however, withdrew his remark later and clarified in another tweet that he was informed by Rahul Gandhi personally that he never said what was attributed to him.
After the CWC meeting that saw intense action and reactions between the members amid open rebellion, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tried to calm nerves and made it clear that no such remark was made by Rahul Gandhi and neither did he endorse the pitch.
The Congress also asked the party leaders to not focus on the “media reports” and said that the former party chief “did not say a word of this nature”.
The CWC meeting comes weeks after the Congress saw a stormy meeting of its Rajya Sabha MPs wherein certain leaders sought introspection on the 2019 poll debacle.