Home / India / Sonia Gandhi, Congress leaders discuss ways to strengthen party

Sonia Gandhi, Congress leaders discuss ways to strengthen party

Leaders decide to hold talks similar to Panchmarhi and Shimla conclaves
Sonia Gandhi met the dissenting leaders for the first time on Saturday since they had raised questions about the party leadership.
Sonia Gandhi met the dissenting leaders for the first time on Saturday since they had raised questions about the party leadership.
File picture

Our Bureau, Agencies   |   New Delhi   |   Published 19.12.20, 06:58 PM

Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday held a five-hour meeting with party leaders, including some  who had written to her seeking complete organisational revamp, and decided ways to strengthen the party at all levels.

It was also decided that they will hold conclaves similar to those of Panchmarhi and Shimla to chalk out plans to move forward.

The meeting, which also included some of Gandhi’s close associates, assumed significance as it was the first of its kind for a rapprochement with the ‘letter-writers’ who had questioned the party leadership.

Sonia Gandhi loyalist Pawan Basant asserted that there was no conflict in the party, and the meeting had ended on a positive note with all the Congress leaders suggesting their views on ways to strengthen the party.

“Discussions were held on a positive note at the meeting where leaders talked about how to strengthen the party at all levels. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said we all are one big family and we all should work to strengthen the party. Rahul Gandhi also talked about strengthening the party,” he told reporters after the meeting.

This was the first time Gandhi met Congress leaders in person since the outbreak of Covid-19.

“There is no dissidence in the Congress party and all are committed to working unitedly to energise the party and fight all those forces which are trying to put upend the idea of India, as enshrined in the Constitution and as articulated by the founding fathers of India's Constitution,” Bansal said.

Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also attended the meeting.

Former Maharashtra chief minister and party leader Prithviraj Chavan said this was the first time such a meeting was held and more of them will be conducted moving forward.

He said ‘Chintan Shivir’ like those held in the past in Shimla and Panchmarhi would be organised.

The Congress had organised both the Pachmarhi and Shimla ‘Chintan Shivirs’ when the party was in the opposition. While the Pachmarhi Shivir was organised in September 1998 when Gandhi had just taken over the party's reins, the Shimla Shivir was held later in July 2003.

Another Congress leader Harish Rawat said that every leader spoke about unitedly working towards strengthening the party.

‘Letter-writers’ including Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, deputy leader of the party in the upper House Anand Sharma, former chief ministers Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Prithviraj Chavan, and MPs Manish Tewari, Vivek Tankha and Shashi Tharoor were present in the meeting.

Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath and senior leader P Chidambaram were also part of the meeting, the sources said.

Among Sonia loyalists were A.K. Antony, Ambika Soni, Ashok Gehlot, Harish Rawat, Ajay Maken, Pawan Bansal and Bhakt Charan Das.

Sources said a number of issues were discussed at the meeting, where the 'letter-writers' expressed the view that they were neither ‘dissenters’ nor ‘rebels’. They said they had only raised issues in the party's interest to strengthen it, the sources said.

The Congress has already decided to hold elections for the post of Congress president and that process is underway. This followed a stormy Congress Working Committee meeting in August after the letter's contents became public.

Copyright © 2020 The Telegraph. All rights reserved.