The crisis in the Congress following the resignation last week of Rahul Gandhi as its leader has taken a turn for the worse with two senior leaders one a longstanding former member of the Congress Working Committee and another a former Union minister openly questioning the exercise being carried out by a small group of CWC members to find a consensus party president, and other senior leaders resenting what they perceive are attempts to foist a name.
Sources said a section of the top leaders are said to be unhappy at alleged attempts by an influential section to push the names of some Dalit leaders. It is learnt that all CWC members have been asked to suggest names of their choice for the Congress president. With a consensus remaining elusive, sources said a meeting of the CWC will be held only next week.
Speaking out Tuesday, Janardan Dwivedi, who was AICC general secretary in charge of the organisation for years, hit out at those who are still continuing in responsible positions despite Rahul Gandhi making it clear he was stepping down taking accountability for the defeat since it would be unjust to hold others accountable while ignoring his own responsibility as president of the party.
Dwivedi questioned the exercise being carried out by a group of leaders, saying it lacked credibility. Who is making the selection of the new Congress president?… As far as I understand the Congress constitution and its spirit, Rahul Gandhi is still the Congress president. And on that basis some appointments were also made recently… If he continues to be the president, on what basis is there a search for a Congress president. Who is doing it? How can it be done? Has it been discussed in the Congress Working Committee? No.
Those who are doing it… I share an affinity with them and I am not addressing them. It is a matter of perception. Their perception on this issue is not appropriate. I am told these meetings are being convened in the name of the coordination committee. Where is the coordination committee? The coordination committee had been set up for the Lok Sabha elections. It ceases to exit after the elections. And this was not its mandate, he said.
Dwivedi said veteran leader A K Antony has not attended any of the informal meetings being held so far. He said Rahul left a gap as he should have put in place a system for the election of a new president when he decided to quit.
With the names of several Congress leaders doing the rounds for the post of Congress president, Dwivedi said it is also not proper to float all sorts of names. On the effort by some senior leaders to arrive at a consensus candidate, he said: What is that? Define senior leaders. Anyone can claim that. Tomorrow, I can start something. What does it mean? .
Former Union minister Ashwani Kumar said discussions in a few drawing rooms in the Capital cannot be seen to be consultations wide enough to elicit consensus on who the president should be.
He said the immediate challenge before the Congress is to find a leader or a structure of leadership that will inspire confidence amongst the Congress cadres and leadership and also among the people at large.
The selection process also must be seen to be credible, transparent and one that inspires hope. And the product of that selection process, it is hoped, would yield leadership that has the capacity and the vision to meet the challenges of the moment, Kumar told The Indian Express.
The need of the hour today is to have a leader who will be able to carry all sections of society with him and is seen to be fair and just as the final arbiter of intra-party issues and disputes. It is necessary to find a leader who will keep the party cohesive and keep it together, so that the party can articulate an ideological vision to play its rightful role as a constructive Opposition party seeking to work for an inclusive India, he said.