Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, one of the 23 original dissenters whose letter created a storm in the Congress – today appeared to pick holes in fellow dissenter Kapil Sibal’s remarks on party leadership.
“Our party’s structure has collapsed. We need to rebuild our structure and then if any leader is elected in that structure, it will work,” Mr Azad said in an interview to news agency ANI.
Then came the rejoinder.
“But saying that just by changing the leader, we’ll win Bihar, UP, Madhya Pradesh etc is wrong. That will happen once we change the system,” he added.
Speaking to The Indian Express in the aftermath of the Bihar election, where Congress has been the weakest link in the opposition alliance, Mr Sibal had been critical of the party leadership.
Pointing to a string of reverses in states like Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, where the party’s presence is strong, Mr Sibal had advised the Congress to “recognise that we are in decline” and that it was essential to converse with “experienced minds… people who understand the political realities of India”.
In the same interview, he had also mentioned that he had been forced to go public with his views as “there has been no dialogue and there seems to be no effort for a dialogue by the leadership”.
Together, the comments were seen as critical of the political understanding and the leadership style of the Gandhis and it had irked a huge section of veterans and Gandhi family loyalists.
While Adhir Ranjan Choudhury had given an open invitation to dissenters to leave the party and form their own, Salman Khurshid had reiterated that Rahul and Sonia Gandhi were the party leaders, which “even the opposition knows”.
“I don’t accept that we’ve been rejected across the country. We don’t have that support that we obviously aspire to. I know for sure we have leaders,” Mr Khurshid had said.
“The fact is we know who the leader is, the fact is we follow the leader. If we follow the leader and we don’t get what you think we should get doesn’t mean we are going to give up the leader? Somebody doesn’t believe we have a leader then they don’t know what the party is about,” he had said.
Addressing the issue of a full-time president for the party – one of the key demands of the 23 dissenters whose letter in August had triggered a storm – Ghulam Nabi Azad said the Gandhis had been willing to name someone by October, but it is being delayed because of the coronavirus outbreak.