In the aftermath of Bihar election in which the Congress fielded candidates in 70 seats as part of Mahagathbandhan with the RJD and a few left parties and managed to win only 19, several Congress leaders have spoken for the need of reforms in the party. This has created a clear division inside the party.
Here is who said what:
The rumblings inside the party started with veteran leader Kapil Sibal calling for introspection inside the party. In an interview, he pitched for democratic process inside the party. “There has been no dialogue and there seems to be no effort for a dialogue by the leadership. We are yet to hear on recent polls… Maybe Congress leadership thinks it should be business as usual,” he said.
Supporting Sibal’s call, Karti Chidambaram said, “It’s time we introspect, ideate, consult and act.”
“There was no need for Mr Kapil Sibal to mention our internal issue in media, this has hurt the sentiments of party workers across the country. We have improved with each and every crisis and also formed UPA government in 2004 under the able leadership of Soniaji, we shall overcome this time too.But each time rank and file of the Congress Party has shown undivided and firm belief in the party leadership and that is why we came out of it stronger and united after every crisis. Even today, Congress is the only party which can keep this nation united and take it forward on the path of comprehensive development,” Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said.
In a long Facebook post, veteran leader Salman Khurshid questioned those who are doubting the party today. “When we do well, admittedly somewhat infrequently they take it for granted. But when we underperform, not even do badly, they are quick to bite their nails. By the looks of it there would be little of the nails left for future disappointments. Is it really a case of bad workmen quarrelling with their tools? If the mood of the electorate is resistant to the liberal values we have espoused and cherished we should be prepared for a long struggle rather than look for short cuts to get back into power. If we are explicitly or implicitly willing to compromise with our principles to regain power we might as well pack up our bags. It is another matter that consolidation of our principled politics, like any cause, requires periodic re-appraisal and re-writing of strategy and logistics,” Khurshid said.
“If we weaken the party and our leaders in such a way, definitely the party cannot go forward and ultimately if our ideology is weakened we will be destroyed. You will have to keep this in mind,” Mallikarjun Kharge said.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said only speaking for introspection while doing nothing will not help. “Kapil Sibal could have raised the issues inside a party forum instead of making such embarrassing remarks in public. Those who are unhappy with the functioning of the party have the freedom to form a new party or join one if they feel that the Congress is not the right place for them. He seems to be very concerned about the Congress and its need for introspection. Earlier also he had spoken about it in public. But he was not seen campaigning for the party in the elections in Bihar or other states that went to polls last year.Instead of giving sermons sitting in AC rooms, he should work on the ground. Lecturing others without doing anything won’t help. Only calling for introspection without doing anything on our own is of no use,” he said.
Ghulam Nabi Azad
“Our party’s structure has collapsed. We need to rebuild our structure and then if any leader is elected in that structure, it will work. But saying that just by changing the leader, we’ll win Bihar, UP, Madhya Pradesh etc is wrong. That will happen once we change the system,” Azad said.
The discourse started with RJD leader Sivanand Tiwari raising questions over Congress’s role in Bihar election. “It contested 70 seats but did not hold even 70 rallies. Rahul Gandhi visited Bihar on three days and addressed two rallies a day. Priyanka Gandhi was not seen at all. When electioneering was at its peak, he was picnicking with Priyanka Gandhi in Shimla,” Tiwari had said.