The letter by 23 Congress dissidents to party chief Sonia Gandhi says there has been a “steady decline of the party”, witnessed in the 2014 and 2019 elections, but there has been no honest introspection to analyse the reasons. It also says the Congress is “no more a nurturing leadership” and calls for “free, fair and democratic” elections.
“We have witnessed a steady decline of the Congress Party reflected in successive electoral verdicts in States and General Elections in 2014 and 2019. Reasons are manifold and need to be immediately identified. Otherwise, the Congress Party will find itself marginalized, both in the States, which is already apparent, as well as at the national level,” says the letter accessed by NDTV.
“The erosion of support base and, in particular, losing the confidence of the youth, is a matter of serious concern,” it says.
Veteran leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal, Anand Sharma, Mukul Wasnik and Shashi Tharoor are among the signatories to the letter, which has deeply rattled the party and split it down the middle.
The dissenters write that in the last two national elections, India added 18.7 crore first time voters but the youth voted overwhelmingly for Modi and the BJP. While the BJP’s vote share sharply increased from 7.84 crores in 2009 to 17.6 crores in 2014 and to 22.9 crores in 2019, the Congress lost its share of 1.23 crore of the votes polled in 2009.
“Even after 14 months of the 2019 electoral verdict, the Congress Party has not undertaken any honest introspection to analyse the reasons for its continued decline. In order to stem the decline, we have taken upon ourselves to be open and frank so that the Congress Party’s future, which presently is at stake, is not jeopardized any further,” said the letter.
“The uncertainty over the leadership and the drift, has demoralised the Congress workers and further weakened the party. There has been an erosion of the support base with leaders and functionaries leaving the party in a number of States.”
The letter also said the Congress Working Committee was not effectively guiding the party and its meetings were “merely episodic and reactive to contemporary developments” instead of being a deliberative body for setting the national agenda and for policy initiatives.
It also criticized Congress Parliamentary Party meetings, saying it has “been reduced to the customary address of the CPP leader and obituary references” without discussions.
The Congress, said the dissenters, was “no more a nurturing leadership at the state and national level”. They said merit based and consensus-backed selection has been disrupted and “resource-rich individuals or those backed by powerful patrons” had captured organisations like the youth Congress.
The ginger group listed their suggestions to “revitalise the party and to give millions of workers a sense of purpose”
- Full time and effective leadership active in the field and visible, and available at AICC and PCC Headquarters.
- The Central Parliamentary Board (CPB) be urgently constituted for collective thinking and decision-making
- Elections of CWC members and block, state Congress chiefs and AICC Members in a transparent manner.
- Important panels to be reconstituted to include “leaders with organisational background and active field knowledge and experience”.
- An “Institutional leadership mechanism” to collectively guide the party’s revival.
Praising the Nehru-Gandhi family, the letter said it would “always remain an integral part of the collective leadership of the Congress Party”.
It also said to create a national coalition of democratic and secular forces to confront and defeat the BJP agenda, “a sincere effort should be made to bring on one platform leaders of political parties, who were once part of the Congress”.