Amid an ongoing tussle between the young and old guard in the Congress, party veterans urged their colleagues on Saturday not to discredit their own legacy and said that by doing so they would only be aiding the BJP's designs to undermine the party in the public eye.
Advising restraint in airing grievances in public, several former Union ministers cautioned their party colleagues, saying such tendencies divide the Congress at a time when unity is needed. They also said one needs to learn from past defeats and revive the party rather than play into the hands of its "ideological enemies".
Former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor came to the rescue of party colleagues Manish Tewari and Milind Deora, saying the UPA's transformative 10 years were distorted and traduced by a motivated and malicious narrative.
Tharoor took to Twitter and wrote, "I agree with Manish Tewari and Milind Deora. UPA's transformative 10 years were distorted and traduced by a motivated and malicious narrative. There's plenty to learn from our defeats and much to be done to revive Congress. But not by playing into the hands of our ideological enemies."
His remarks came amid the row over a Congress meeting chaired by party interim chief Sonia Gandhi two days ago, which saw arguments and sharp criticism by younger leaders who appeared to blame the party's last government for its downfall.
Amid the criticism of the senior leaders, a section of the party rallied behind former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Twitter.
Congress leaders Anand Sharma, Tharoor, Tewari and former Mumbai Congress chief Deora -- all ministers in Singh's cabinet at one point -- defended the former Prime Minister, tagging criticism for him as "ill-informed" and part of a "motivated and malicious narrative".
Earlier in the day, Deora responding to a tweet of Tewari said, "Well said, Manish. When demitting office in 2014, Manmohan Singh said history will be kinder to me. Could he have ever imagined that some from his own party would dismiss his years of service to the nation and seek to destroy his legacy - that, too, in his presence?"
Deora's remarks came after Tewari on Saturday hit out at party leaders who questioned 10 years of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule at the Centre, calling them "ill-informed". Interestingly, he gave the example of the BJP to put out a contrasting picture on party unity.
"The BJP was out of power for 10 years (2004-14). Not once did they ever blame (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee or his government for their then predicament. In Congress, unfortunately, some ill-informed (leaders) would rather take swipes at Dr Manmohan Singh-led UPA government than fight the NDA/BJP. When unity is required, they divide," the member of Parliament from Anandpur Sahib in Punjab tweeted.
The verbal lashing from the former Minister for Information and Broadcasting comes after a number of party MPs questioned the UPA rule and demanded introspection on Congress debacles.
The members of Team Rahul had asked for introspection when the Congress' Rajya Sabha MPs met on Thursday. The issue of the 2014 election debacle was raised by Rajeev Satav, who was countered by Sharma and others.
"Congressmen must be proud of the UPA's legacy. No party disowns or discredits its legacy. Nobody expects the BJP to be charitable and give us credit, but our own should respect and not forget," Sharma, the deputy leader of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha, said.
The debate was triggered by Satav who asked former ministers Kapil Sibal and P Chidambaram to introspect on the decline of the grand old party.
However, in an attempt to clear the air, Satav on Saturday said "some motivated media reports have twisted facts".
"The malicious attempt to draw Dr Manmohan Singh into this exchange is reprehensible. To say my observations cast a shadow over Dr Singh’s leadership of UPA II is a lie, a total misrepresentation of facts. I hold Dr Singh in high esteem. He is above reproach," Satav said in a series of tweets.
"Dr Singh has made commendable contributions to building modern India. He will always be held in high regard. I will discuss my comments, or those made by any other esteemed colleagues, on internal party forums only," he added.
Sharma noted that the history will honestly record the commendable contributions of former prime minister Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
"The two led India to a decade of compassionate and inclusive growth which all of us are proud of," he said, adding that he is personally proud to have been a part of both the UPA-1 and UPA-2 governments even as he recalled some of the achievements of the time in social and economic spheres.
"UPA government was victim of a grand political conspiracy and malicious disinformation campaign of the BJP, political opponents and powerful vested interests. Six years later, what was alleged in 2014 stands proven false in 2020. Where are the leaders of the Campaign against Corruption today? The authors of the conspiracy generously rewarded the cheerleaders asking no questions," Sharma said in a series of tweets.
Sources close to the Congress leadership said pioneering reforms of UPA-1 and UPA-2 were conceived, designed and formulated by the party, the National Advisory Council, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, and were successfully implemented and executed by Singh and Team Congress.
(With inputs from agencies)