Nine expelled Uttar Pradesh Congress leaders have written to Sonia Gandhi, asking her to “rise above the affinity for the family (parivaar ke moh)” and lead the party by establishing mutual trust and restoring constitutional and democratic values.
The letter comes days after a similar one challenging the Gandhis’ management style, calling for “full-time, visible leadership” and proposing sweeping organisational changes, including elections at every level and decentralisation of power.
That letter prompted an explosive seven-hour meeting of the Congress Working Committee (the party’s highest decision-making body), during which Mrs Gandhi offered to resign before being persuaded by loyalists to remain in temporary charge.
“Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi built the Congress and the country with democratic values. But it is ironical that, for some time the way in which the party is being run, there is confusion and depression among ordinary party workers,” the UP Congress leaders, including former MP Santosh Singh and former minister Satyadev Tripathi, said in their letter.
“When the country’s democratic values and social fabric is lying scattered, the need of the country is that Congress remain alive, dynamic and strong,” they said.
“Please rise above the affinity for the family, and as per traditions, restore the expression of thoughts, constitutional and democratic values, and run the organisation by establishing communication and mutual trust,” the leaders added.
Mr Singh and Mr Tripathi were among 10 senior leaders expelled from the primary membership of the party in November last year, for allegedly sullying the party’s image and opposing the leadership’s decisions at public forums.
The letters challenging the Gandhi family’s leadership of the Congress have come after the party – which performed atrociously in the last two general elections – only narrowly retained power in Rajasthan, following open revolt from Sachin Pilot.
Only months earlier the party lost its Madhya Pradesh government after the high-profile switch of Jyotiraditya Scindia to the BJP, prompting questions over the Gandhi family’s decision-making.
In the first letter – which was signed by high-profile and veteran politicians like Shashi Tharoor, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Prithviraj Chavan, Anand Sharma and Kapil Sibal – there were fears that “uncertainty” over the leadership and a “drift” within the party had demoralised workers and weakened the party.
With input from PTI