More Congress leaders have gone public with their analysis, after the Delhi election rout, of the party’s state of decay and the suggestion that it is time to address the leadership question.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor today tweeted a newspaper report quoting former MP Sandeep Dikshit on senior leaders “failing” to find a new president and wrote that what he said openly was being said sotto voce by “dozens of party leaders” across the country.
“What Sandeep Dikshit said openly is what dozens of party leaders from across the country are saying privately, including many with responsible positions in the party. I renew my appeal to the CWC (Congress Working Committee) to hold leadership elections to energise workers and inspire voters,” Shashi Tharoor wrote.
The Congress took it badly. “If Sandeep is putting it on twitter, if he puts even a fraction in his work, he will transform Delhi. Instead of giving gyaan (lecture), concentrate on doing good work,” said party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
The Congress, which ruled Delhi for three straight terms till 2013 with Sheila Dikshit as Chief Minister, couldn’t win a single seat in the 70-member assembly in the election earlier this month. The extent of the party’s ruin in the capital was underlined by the stunning fact that its candidates lost their deposits – meaning they couldn’t even win a sixth of the votes – in 63 seats.
While a section of Congress leaders reacted by openly congratulating Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for defeating the BJP, another group called out its own leaders for praising a rival party that grew at the cost of the Congress and displaced it. One party leader, PC Chacko, even pointed fingers at Sheila Dikshit, who died last year.
Sheila Dikshit’s son Sandeep Dikshit, a former Congress MP from Delhi, told the Indian Express in an interview that the party’s biggest challenge was the leadership question. He said there were at least six-eight Congress leaders capable of leading the party, but “sometimes you want inaction because you don’t want a certain action to happen”.
Mr Dikshit named Amarinder Singh, Ashok Gehlot, Kamal Nath, AK Antony, P Chidambaram, Salman Khurshid, Ahmed Patel and said it was time for them to “intellectually contribute” and get into leadership selection.
“The current position is that madam (Sonia) Gandhi is an interim president, Mr (Rahul) Gandhi doesn’t want to be president. So let us respect his position and carry on,” the Congress leader told the newspaper. “It’s very easy to put your finger on any one leader. But what are the rest of the 30, 40, 50 (leaders) doing?… They write articles, they write books, they mutter and murmur in conferences and in meetings…don’t you have the guts to come together and give something,” Mr Dikshit said, not holding back.
Last week, Jairam Ramesh compared the Delhi result to “coronavirus” for the Congress and said some in the party still behaved like ministers even after six years out of power. Others like Jyotiraditya Scindia and Manish Tewari suggested the party has to reinvent itself.