With a section of Congress leaders demanding changes to the leadership ahead of the Congress Working Committee meeting on Monday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday opposed “the bid by some Congress leaders to challenge the Gandhi family leadership of the party”.
In a statement, 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 the move by these Congress leaders to demand a rehaul of the party at this critical juncture would be detrimental to its interests, and the interests of the nation.
Terming the demand for a leadership change as untenable, Amarinder noted the immense contribution of the 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, he 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 said and added 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 Congressman 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 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, said the CM, 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 letter to Sonia, more than 20 top party leaders have sought discussion over the leadership issue, referring to the internal crisis in the party. The letter calls for honest introspection, collective leadership and stresses that the “youth are losing confidence” in the party.