Bonds of social harmony deliberately stretched to keep voters polarised for electoral gains: Sonia
Congress leader Sonia Gandhi Credit: File image

New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi Tuesday asked chiefs of its Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur units to resign amid continued rumblings in the party following its abject loss in the assembly elections in these states.

The sabre rattling in the Congress, meanwhile, intensified as Gandhi family loyalists lashed out at their colleague Kapil Sibal for his remarks that the Gandhis should step aside and pave the way for some other leader at the helm, accusing him of speaking the language of the BJP and the RSS.

The axe fell on the Congress’s satraps, including its Punjab president Navjot Singh Sidhu, two days after the Congress Working Committee (CWC) brainstormed about the reasons for the party’s debacle in the latest round of state assembly polls. The Congress failed to wrest the four BJP-ruled states and lost Punjab to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

“Congress President, Smt. Sonia Gandhi has asked the PCC Presidents of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur to put in their resignations in order to facilitate reorganisation of PCCs,” chief spokesperson for the party Randeep Surjewala said on Twitter.

Sidhu, Uttarakhand state unit chief Ganesh Godiyal, and his Manipur counterpart N Loken Singh were all appointed PCC presidents in the run up to the assembly elections.

Gandhi has also sought the resignation of Girish Chodankar, who heads the Goa unit, and Uttar Pradesh PCC president Ajay Kumar Lallu.

“After reaching Delhi today, as soon as I came to know that the party has asked for accountability and sought the resignation of office bearers of all states where the party lost the elections, I have also submitted my resignation. I will continue to fight as a Congress worker,” Godiyal said in a tweet in Hindi.

Sources said Gandhi will reconstitute the state units, a natural corollary to the CWC’s marathon meeting where it had asked the Congress president to initiate necessary changes in the organisation in order to strengthen it, while reaffirming faith in her leadership after she reportedly offered to resign, if the party so wanted.

At the crucial CWC meeting, the G-23 leaders present pulled no punches as they asked the party leadership to guard against rumour-mongers giving mischievous twists to their suggestions. The group of 23 senior leaders, which has been demanding an organisational overhaul for the last two years, had asserted they were not “political tourists” but “lifelong Congressmen”.

Kapil Sibal, one of the G-23 leaders who is not a member of the CWC, came under fierce attack on Tuesday from Manickam Tagore, a staunch Rahul Gandhi loyalist, who said the former Union minister was speaking the language of the RSS and the BJP which want the Gandhis out of the leadership position to kill the Congress party and destroy the idea of India.

Congress national spokesperson Pawan Khera said Sibal should contest elections for the post of the Congress president instead of making public comments against the leadership.

“Why RSS and BJP wants Nehru-Gandhi’s out of the leadership? Because without Gandhi’s leadership Congress will be become Janata party. It’s easy to kill Congress then it’s easy to destroy the idea of India (sic),” Tagore said on Twitter.

“Kapil Sibal knows it but why he is speaking the language of RSS/BJP,” the Congress’ Lok Sabha whip asked.

Khera also put out a Twitter post hitting out at Sibal.

“Dr Harshvardhan did not ask you to step aside from Chandni Chowk. He fought an election and defeated you Kapil Sibal. Those who want to lead Congress are free to fight upcoming election for the position of party president instead of chanting everyday against current leadership,” Khera tweeted.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot termed Sibal’s comments “unfortunate”.

“At a time when the party is losing elections, leaders should stand united,” he told reporters in Jaipur.

Sibal had said Gandhis should step aside and give some other leader a chance to lead the party.

“Leadership is in cuckoo land I want a ‘Sab ki Congress’. Some want a ‘Ghar ki Congress’,” Sibal told the Indian Express in an interview.

His remarks followed the Congress Working Committee meeting on Sunday, where Sonia Gandhi was asked to continue to lead the party and initiate changes required to strengthen it, protracting the status quo in the party.

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