‘All is well’: Congress after senior leaders’ meet

New Delhi, Dec 19  The Congress party is trying to portray that all is well after interim party chief Sonia Gandhi met senior leaders.

Sources within the dissenters’ camp say that it was only a “ice breaker” as the party has to address issues raised by them but pointed out that the meeting was “cordial”.

The leaders said that more meetings will streamline things but the impasse is over and at least the party sat to talk and deliberate on the issues which had been missing so far.

During the meeting, though Sonia Gandhi said the party is family but the chorus for Rahul Gandhi as party President only received a cold response from the dissenting group and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan asked for internal party elections from top to bottom as one of the primary demands of the letter writers.

To this Rahul Gandhi said that “we are not here to discuss who will be President but to focus on the party. He said everyone is dear to him as all have been his father’s friends. Ghulam Nabi Azad endorsed the view by Rahul but suggestions were made to organise ‘Chintan Shivir’ or brainstorming session.

The leaders also pointed to the loss in Bihar and Gujarat elections and blamed those responsible during the elections to which Priyanka Gandhi said it is time to hit the streets with an agenda and the time of memorandum and statements are over.

Congress leaders’ meeting with Sonia Gandhi on Saturday ended after almost five hours and sources said nobody in the meeting objected to Rahul Gandhi’s name from being proposed for the party chief’s position again.

“No one has a problem with Rahul Gandhi, and this is not just for today. Everybody said that we need Rahul Gandhi’s leadership. We must not fall into the trap of other people who are trying to distract the party’s agenda,” senior party leader Pawan Bansal said, emerging out of the most awaited meeting ever since the group of 23 leaders had shot off a letter to Sonia Gandhi in August asking for major changes in the party.

Several other senior leaders also brought in suggestions with fresh measures for strengthening the party.

Prithiviraj Chavan, one of the signatories of the “G23 letter”, said after the meeting: “Nineteen leaders of Congress met and discussed means to strengthen the party. A clear future course is on the anvil. It is the first of such meetings. More meetings will take place. ‘Chintan Shivirs’ in line with Shimla and Pachmarhi will also be organised.”

He said suggestions of the party leaders will be recorded.

The meeting at the residence of the Congress interim chief included several of the “dissident” leaders who had written to her urging for “an active president” in the party.

Bansal termed the meeting “very constructive” with everyone pitching in with suggestions “that were all taken note of”. He said the meeting “energised the party to fight the forces that are fighting against the idea of India and Congress”. He said the Congress is determined to fight all such forces.

The sources said it was a “freewheeling discussion and whatever anyone had to say they said”.


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