Cracking the whip on dissenters, the Congress in Jharkhand on Thursday issued a show-cause notice to senior leader Furqan Ansari for criticising Rahul Gandhi and the party’s state in-charge RPN Singh, people aware of the matter said.
Ansari, a former Lok Sabha member from Godda in Jharkhand, had questioned Rahul Gandhi’s campaigning in Bihar. He also claimed that the people working in Rahul Gandhi’s office and his advisors were mainly MBA graduates.
“As a result, they are not able to give him the right advice or suggest key talking points for his campaign speeches. To strengthen the Congress, it is important for Rahul Gandhi to have a political advisor,” he said.
Ansari’s son Irfan is currently a legislator from Jamtara.
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Ansari, 72, also said that he will write to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and seek major overhaul in the party organisation.
Ansari also attacked Jharkhand in-charge RPN Singh. “If I were at the helm, I would have not appointed him (Singh) even a block president,” he said.
There were demands from state leaders for strict action against Ansari to send a “stern message” to dissenters.
Acting on requests from several leaders, the party’s Jharkhand working presidentKamlesh Mahto Kamlesh issued the show-cause notice to Ansari on behalf of state unit chief Rameshwar Oraon who is undergoing treatment for Covid-19.
In the notice, Ansari has been asked to explain his remarks within seven days. “Your statements to the media against Rahul Gandhi and RPN Singh have hurt the statements of party workers. There is an established norm in the party that no Congress leader will give press statements against the leadership. You have violated that norm,” the notice said.
Differences in the Congress have surfaced again after the results of assembly elections in Bihar and bypolls in several states, including Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh. Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal spoke out publicly and insisted that the Congress needs efficient and senior leaders to manage elections.
Sibal, a former union minister and one of the 23 signatories to a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi in August this year seeking internal elections and organisational overhaul, questioned the leadership on the poll debacle and asked if it was “business as usual”.
The remarks triggered a war of words within the Congress as Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot countered Sibal and claimed that his remarks have “hurt the sentiments” of workers and reminded him that the party had been through crises several times in the past.
On Tuesday, senior Congress leader and former union minister Salman Khurshid, too, took a dig at Sibal. In a Facebook post, Khurshid said if the mood of the electorate is resistant to the liberal values the party has espoused and cherished, it should be prepared for a long struggle rather than look for shortcuts to get back in power.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram also claimed that the party’s performance in the assembly elections in Bihar and bypolls in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka show that there is either “no organisational presence on the ground, or it has weakened considerably”.
In an interview to Dainik Bhaskar, former union finance minister Chidambaram said that the Congress fought more seats in Bihar than its organisational strength, and called for a “comprehensive review” of the poll results. He added, however, that he was “more worried” about the by-election results.
As part of the Mahagathbandhan, or Grand Alliance, the Congress contested 70 seats but managed to win just 19, impacting the Opposition’s chances of ousting the ruling coalition from power; it won just nine of the 28 seats in Madhya Pradesh, and failed to open its account in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, and Manipur.