Caught Off-guard on Article 370 & Savarkar, Sonia Sets Up Think Tank to Fine-tune Congress Strategy

New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi has set up a think tank of senior party leaders in an attempt to fine-tune the party’s stand and formulate a coherent response to key policy issues.

The decision comes in the wake of several senior party leaders taking divergent views on ideological issues, which have both long and short-term bearing on the party's prospects — both electorally and otherwise.

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and senior party leaders Kapil Sibal, Mallikarjun Kharge, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Ahmed Patel will be part of the think tank.

In a polarised polity, Congress has found it difficult to articulate a coherent and comprehensive response to emerging political situation. Multiplicity of voices and leaders seeking to address their respective constituencies has only added to the confusion, causing embarrassment to the party.

There were divergent views within the party on the scrapping of special status to Kashmir. In the Rajya Sabha, leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and former home minister P Chidambaram vociferously opposed the bills but a section in the Lok Sabha and within the party supported the move.

Similarly, BJP’s promise to bestow Bharat Ratna to Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar evoked a sharp response from MP Manish Tewari in the midst of Congress-NCP facing a tough electoral battle in Maharashtra.

It was then left to Manmohan Singh to temper the party’s stand on both the issues. The former prime minister, in a press conference in Mumbai, contextualised Congress’ opposition to Savarkar’s ideology. On Article 370, Singh clarified that the Congress did not vote against the amendment bill but opposed the way the changes were being made without larger consultations.

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