Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi (Image: PTI)
On December 19, Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi will meet some of the 23 senior party leaders who wrote to her an unprecedented letter in August seeking reforms in the organisation and a full-time “visible” leadership.
Only some of the 23 party leaders will meet Gandhi. According to a report by The Indian Express, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, former union ministers Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari and Shashi Tharoor; and former chief ministers of Haryana and Maharashtra, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Prithviraj Chavan could meet Gandhi.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, former party president Rahul Gandhi, former union ministers P Chidambaram and AK Antony, and senior leader KC Venugopal are also expected to be present in the meeting.
According to a report by NDTV, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath played a role in persuading the Gandhis to meet the rebel leaders.
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. The leaders had argued that uncertainty over the leadership and the “drift” in the party had demoralised workers.
The group of 23 leaders included five former chief ministers, sitting Members of Parliament, multiple Congress Working Committee (CWC) members and some former union ministers.
A meet of the CWC 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.