All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge of Bihar and Delhi Shaktisinh Gohil has requested the party leadership to relieve him of all organisational responsibilities on health grounds, people familiar with the development said.
Gohil, 60, had tested positive for Covid-19 on November 6 in the midst of Bihar assembly elections.
On December 3, the senior Congress leader announced on social media that he was being treated for post-Covid complications.
He tweeted: “I was #COVID19 positive & now under strict medical supervision for post Covid complications. Due to lung infection, I have been medically advised not to talk or meet visitors. Recovery may take time. Thank you for your good wishes & concern. See you all once I’m fine!”
A Congress functionary said Gohil, also a Rajya Sabha member, has requested the party high command to relieve him of organisational responsibilities until his health condition improves.
Gohil, along with Gujarat in-charge Rajeev Satav, had on November 17 offered his resignations to a special panel formed in August o assist Congress president Sonia Gandhi on organisational matters. They offered their resignations, taking responsibility for the party’s poll debacle in their respective states.
While the Congress won just 19 of the 70 seats it contested in Bihar, hurting the chances of the Rashtriya Janata Dal-led ‘mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance) ousting the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, the party failed to win any of the by-elections in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Manipur, Nagaland, Odisha and Telangana.
The losses triggered a war of words within the Congress with senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Kapil Sibal, two of the 23 signatories to a letter to the Congress president in August seeking internal elections and an organisational overhaul, questioning the leadership on the poll debacle.
While Sibal asked if the poll setbacks were “business as usual”, Azad claimed that a “five-star culture” had gripped the Congress and its structure had collapsed.
The two were confronted by Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot. Other leaders claimed that their remarks had “hurt the sentiments” of Congress workers and reminded them that the party had been through a crises several times in the past.
In the November 17 meeting, the special committee members told both Gohil and Satav that the panel was not the right forum to offer their resignations and that they do not have the mandate to accept or reject their offers to give up their posts.
Instead, the committee told them that they should identify the reasons for the party’s poor show in their respective states and submit a detailed report.
A second Congress functionary said Gohil had been completely sidelined in the Bihar elections after the party leadership handed over the election management to a new central team, led by general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala.
Soon after its list of candidates was released, the Congress had deployed a central team to quell a rebellion triggered by the selection of “tainted” leaders and also to oversee the party’s poll preparations and campaign.
This was perhaps the first time that the AICC, the party’s central unit, had taken complete charge of the poll management and preparations during any state election.
The second functionary quoted above claimed Gohil’s request to the Congress high command seemed to be in response to him being sidelined in the Bihar elections.
When contacted, Gohil said it was an internal matter between him and the party. “I hope you will appreciate it,” he said.