Congress president Sonia Gandhi is on December 19 meeting Congress leaders including many of the 23 signatories to the August letter seeking reforms in the party and a full-time “visible” leadership.
Leader of the party in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Rajya Sabha MP Anand Sharma, Lok Sabha MPs Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tiwari, former chief minister of Harayana Bhupinder Hooda, former chief minister of Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Vivek Tankha are among the signatories of the letter expected to attend the meeting to be held at 10 Janpath, Sonia Gandhi’s residence. Former union minister Kapil Sibal cannot attend the meeting because he is travelling abroad.
Apart from the letter writers, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other senior Congress leaders including P Chidambaram, AK Antony, KC Venugopal, Pawan Kumar Bansal, Kamal Nath, Ashok Gehlot, Harish Rawat and Ambika Soni and Pryanka Gandhi are attending the meeting.
A report in Hindustan Times said that all leaders have been tested for COVID-19 before attending the meeting. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandho had recently returned from their trip to Goa where they had stayed for some time in the wake of rising pollution levels in New Delhi.
In August, 23 senior party leaders had written to Gandhi calling for sweeping reforms, decentralisation of power and urgent constitution of a central parliamentary board, among others.
A meeting of the Congress Working Committee was called days after the dissent letter surfaced. In the beginning of the meeting, Gandhi announced her decision to step down as the party chief. However, drama unfolded when leaders who had written the letter came under attack from others supporting Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi had also questioned the timing of the letter and said it was written in “collusion with the BJP”, a comment that annoyed some leaders who were signatories of the letter.
After deliberations that went on for seven hours, the CWC had resolved that Gandhi would continue as the interim president until a session of All India Congress Committee (AICC) is called within six months.
Days later, Gandhi had announced a new set of parliamentary party appointments that were seen as a snub to dissident letter-writers.
On December 18, the Congress downplayed any internal friction and said Rahul Gandhi was the "right person" to lead the party.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the party stood united and together as a family and there are no dissensions pending after the announcement of elections to the party chief's post.
"Congress workers and the electoral college including the AICC members of the party will choose a person best suited for the post. It is my belief and the belief of overwhelming majority of 99.9 per cent leaders and workers that Rahul Gandhi is the right person to lead the party and to take on the Modi government," Surjewala said.