19 Dec 2020: Ready to work for Congress as all desire: Rahul Gandhi
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said he is willing to "work for the party as all desire" at a meeting with party dissenters who wrote a letter criticizing the leadership in August.
His statement, which was applauded by everyone present, including dissenters, has sparked speculations about his return as the party's president. Congress is likely to elect its next chief in January 2021.
Fact: Congress needs better communication, feels Rahul
"I am willing to work for the party as all of you desire," Rahul was quoted as saying by Congress leader Pawan Bansal after the meeting. Rahul also reportedly agreed the party needed "better communication" and that it needs to strengthen itself at the booth-level.
The meeting: First of a series of meeting over next 10 days
The meeting between Congress's interim chief Sonia Gandhi, Rahul, and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and the 23 party leaders, who wrote the dissent letter, lasted for about five hours.
The Congress called the meeting, which was held at Sonia's 10, Janpath residence, as the first of a series of meetings to be held over the next 10 days ahead of the party's organizational elections.
Fact: Dissenters called for active and visible leadership
To recall, 23 Congress leaders — dubbed the G-23 — had written an unprecedented "dissent letter" to Sonia back in August, calling for active and visible leadership, changes in the organization, and collective decision-making. The letter had also resulted in a clash within the Congress.
Statement: Positive discussion started by Sonia: Bansal
"A positive discussion was started by Sonia Gandhi. She talked about defining the narrative, deciding the top leadership," Bansal said, after the meeting.
"Sonia Gandhi said we all are one big family and should work to strengthen the party. There is no dissidence in Congress, all are committed to work unitedly to energize the party," he added.
President again?: No one has an issue with Rahul, says Bansal
On whether Rahul's statement hints at his return as the Congress chief, Bansal said, "No one has an issue with Rahul Gandhi...The process of electing a Congress president is in the process."
On Friday, Congress's spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala claimed 99.9% of leaders want Rahul to return.
However, dissenters still demand elections for Congress's president, the Congress Working Committee, and the parliamentary board.
Leadership crisis: Rahul resigned after Congress's defeat in 2019 LS polls
Rahul had resigned as the Congress's president last year following the party's embarrassing defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
His resignation forced Sonia to take charge as the interim chief of the party until a new president is elected.
Notably, while both Congress loyalists and dissenters support him, Rahul has so far not expressed any interest in returning as the party chief.