New Delhi: Amidst tumult and upsurge within a directionless and rudderless Congress, which has virtually been on auto pilot since the last Lok Sabha election, the leadership deficit that is costing the party dearly virtually every day, is once again grabbing centre-stage. The Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on Monday could be a stormy affair after a letter written by scores of party leaders has surfaced, calling for drastic changes and reform in the grand old party.
The party sources say that there is no challenge to the leadership of Rahul Gandhi but if the name of another person is pushed forward, there will be protests from others.
It's anticipated that Rahul Gandhi may push the name of KC Venugopal, so everybody is gearing up with their strategies. But if the CWC decides for elections, the matter may be laid to rest. In the meantime, top Congress managers are busy reaching out to dissenters in the party.
Rajya Sabha MP PL Punia said: "We want Rahul Gandhi to take over, which was also raised by the group wishing for his comeback as the Congress chief."
Sanjay Jha, sacked as Congress spokesperson recently, said: "Around 300 Congress leaders from all over the country, representing all regions and states, are signatories to the letter, over and above the names of 23 senior leaders already in the public domain. Their names remain undisclosed as it will distract from the core message of the letter itself."
Earlier, the Congress had denied existence of such a letter but now it has surfaced with signatures of more than 20 leaders.
The letter, while expressing concern with the rise of the BJP, calls for a "full- time" party President. Sonia Gandhi has been the interim chief since August last year.
In the letter, the party leaders said that "the leadership should be effective and visible on the ground". The leaders are miffed with the party for reducing itself to holding of only press conferences and tweets, said a signatory on the condition of anonymity.
They said the party leadership should take everybody along and put up a serious challenge to the BJP. The signatories include Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, former Chief Ministers Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Veerappa Moily, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, and Prithviraj Chavan, said party sources.
The letter lamented that the "party is declining and unable to confront the rise of the BJP in the country".
The party leaders insisted that the country is facing grave challenges from economic recession, pandemic, and the China border tensions.
These leaders wanted elections from block level up to the CWC. The elections in the CWC were discontinued after Sonia Gandhi took charge and nomination system was adopted for the highest decision-making body in the party. The revival of the parliamentary board is also sought by these leaders.
The party leaders want proper discussions in the CWC and the Congress Parliamentary Party meetings. In the letter, it has been emphasised that instead of reactions, the Congress should set the political agenda and alternate narrative to counter the BJP.
They demanded that state leaders should be given more freedom and regional leaders consulted on party framework.
While nobody opposed Rahul Gandhi's reappointment as the Congress President, these leaders called for "collective leadership".