Raising their voice one more time against the constant decline of Congress, senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Kapil Sibal on Thursday said the party must hold elections to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and key organisational posts of state chiefs lest it continues to “sit in the Opposition for the next 50 years”.
Azad, who was one of the signatories to the letter sent to party chief Sonia Gandhi asking her for “sweeping changes” in Congress, said, “For the last many decades, we do not have elected bodies in the party. Maybe we should have pushed for it 10-15 yrs ago. Now we are losing elections after elections, and if we have to come back we need to strengthen our party by holding elections.”
“If my party wants to be in opposition for the next 50 years, then there is no need for elections within the party,” he told news agency ANI.
A party veteran from Sanjay Gandhi days, Azad is the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha and his term ends in February 2021. He also led the party successfully in the 2002 Assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir.
Speaking to ANI, Azad said that those opposing CWC elections are afraid of losing their positions as they got their posts via ‘appointment cards’.
“Those office-bearers or state unit presidents or block district presidents who attack our proposal know that they will be nowhere when elections happen. Whoever is genuinely invested in the Congress will welcome the letter. I have said that State, district and block president of the party should be elected by the party workers,” he said.
“"An election has the benefit that when you fight elections, at least your party is 51 per cent behind you. Right now, the person who becomes president might not even have one per cent support. If CWC members are elected then they cannot be removed. So what is the problem,” Ghulam Nabi Azad told ANI.
Sibal, in an interview to Hindustan Times, said, “If people have access to the letter, they will know it is not an attempt to belittle anyone, including the Gandhi family. In fact, we have appreciated the services rendered by the leadership thus far.”
“The Congress party is at a historic low and the election results of 2014 and 2019 reflect that,” Sibal added.
The letter written to Sonia Gandhi by 23 Congress, leaders including MPs and former ministers, called for sweeping reforms, fair internal elections, collective decision-making and a full-time party chief.
News 18 had earlier reported that during the CWC meeting on Monday, senior leaders took on the letter writers, including Azad, asking them what their real intention was in writing the note. They were asked as to why they couldn’t discuss this at party meetings. When they replied that meetings were not held, immediately a list of the number of meetings called by Sonia Gandhi was read out.
However, Sonia Gandhi reportedly reached out to Azad after the meeting and assured him that his concerns will be addressed.