Kapil Sibal demands immediate Congress Working Committee meeting, says 'G23' not 'Jee Huzur 23'
With several Congress leaders quitting the party and its Punjab unit in turmoil, senior party leader Kapil Sibal on Wednesday demanded that an immediate meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) be convened and wondered who in the party was taking decisions in the absence of a full-time president.
Addressing the media, he said a senior member of the 'Group of 23' has written to Congress President Sonia Gandhi for convening the CWC meeting immediately to discuss the party affairs and the exodus.
Sibal said the grouping is "not a Jee Huzur 23" and will continue to put forth the views and will continue to repeat the demands.
He said the Congress needs to be strengthened as a strong opposition to take on the government and once again reiterated the demands of the group for holding elections to the Congress president, the CWC and the central election committee.
He expressed anguish over the developments in the party in Punjab and the recent exodus of party leaders, saying all such issues need to be discussed at a party platform.
"In our party at the moment there is no president. So we don't know who is taking these decisions. We know and yet we don't know," Sibal said.
"I believe one of my senior colleagues has written to the Congress president to immediately convene a CWC. So that at least some things that we can't speak publicly, we can have a dialogue in the CWC as to why we are in this state," he said.
Sibal said, "We are not 'Jee Huzur 23'. We will continue to put forth our views and will continue to repeat our demands."
In an apparent attack on the party leadership, he said there is no monopoly in the power structure of any country or political party.
He also quoted the words of Mahatma Gandhi to say that no school of thought can claim a monopoly of right judgment and we are all liable to err and are often obliged to revise our judgements.
"In a vast country like this there must be room for all schools of thought, and the least therefore that we we owe to ourselves as to others is to try to understand the opponents' viewpoint. And if we cannot accept it, respect it as fully as we expect him to respect ours. It is one of the indispensable tests of healthy public life.
"So, listen to our point of view. If you don't accept it, fine, but at least listen. We respect your point of view, but have the space to respect ours. Allow us that dialogue. There are no monopolies. No monopolies should be created in the power structures of any country or a party," Sibal said.
Noting that they are not the ones who will leave the ideology of the Congress party and go anywhere else, he said it is ironic that those who were considered closest aides of the party leadership have left them and those who they thought were not close to them are still with them.
"This is the irony of the Congress party. In such a situation, every Congress man has to think how to take the party forward and strengthen it. I would also say that those who have left us should come back, because Congress is the only ideology which cab sustain. It is the Congress alone can save this republic because the present dispensation is destroying the very foundations of our republic," he said.
"So what do we need, We need open dialogue. We need conversations. We need to understand each other's point of view," he said, refusing to discuss the developments in Punjab, where the Congress party had changed its chief minister and installed a new state Congress president who also quit.
Sibal said what is happening to the Congress in Punjab gives an advantage to Pakistan and the ISI.
He said one knows the history of Punjab and the rise of extremism there and how forces across the border exploit the situation to create an atmosphere of uncertainty.
"It is these forces that are the biggest threat to our country. The Congress should make sure they remain united. If someone has an issue it should be discussed and the conversation must take place from the senior-most member of the party. The organisational structure must be strengthened.
"That will take place if there is an elected president, an elected CWC, an elected Central Election Committee, if the structure is strengthened bottom up," the senior Congress leader said.