By asking the Gandhis to step aside, did Sibal cross the red line?

New Delhi, March 20 (IANS)
As Sonia Gandhi takes the responsibility of reaching out to the dissidents and has partially succeeded in convincing them to fight the BJP jointly, the statement from Ghulam Nabi Azad that there is no question over the leadership of Sonia Gandhi has come as a relief to the loyalists. However, one man, Kapil Sibal, will be worried as he had demanded that the Gandhis should step aside.
Azad after meeting Sonia Gandhi distanced himself and the group from the views of senior party leader and fellow G-23 leader Kapil Sibal on a leadership change. Azad noted that Sonia Gandhi’s offer to step back has been rejected by all the groups, including the one he belonged to, and “we wanted her to continue”.
The Congress has an unwritten rule since Sonia Gandhi took over in 1998 that nobody questioned her leadership whether she lost or won in the elections. After the 2019 loss, Rahul Gandhi took the blame and resigned from the party presidentship. After the latest poll debacle Sibal misjudged the sentiments of the party and targeted the Gandhis who still command majority support in the party. Despite frantic calls, only 18 people came to the meeting at Azad’s residence and even Mukul Wasnik who is a signatory to their statement kept a distance.
The Congress ginger group is highlighting the names of Sachin Pilot and Mukul Wasnik as probable replacements but both may not go against the Gandhis as Pilot has his own goals in Rajasthan and Wasnik has been close to the family.
The ‘G-23′ group, which is seeking an overhaul of the party, including the revival of the parliamentary board and an elected CWC and CEC, seems to have toned down its demand for a leadership change with its senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who had met party chief Sonia Gandhi on Friday, saying there is no vacancy right now for the post of President and nobody has asked her to quit.
“Nobody said Mrs Gandhi should quit there is no question on leadership, we will fight unitedly against the BJP”, he said.
“She is the Congress President, we are leaders of the party, the feedback which is given to restructure the organisation is not meant for the public… there is no question on the leadership, when Mrs Gandhi offered (to step back), we all rejected it.
“When the party will go for organisational polls, then there will be deliberations.. at that time it will be decided,” Azad told media persons after the key meeting, which lasted for over an hour.
“There is no vacancy of the Congress President.”
His remarks bolster indications that the Congress’ internal battle seems heading towards a truce as the Gandhis have been proactively reaching out to the dissenters with senior party leader Rahul Gandhi, who has not been having a good equation with former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, meeting him on Thursday and listening to his grievances. Later, Hooda met the G-23 leaders.
Similarly, the Gandhi family is reaching out to each person in the G-23 group, who have been demanding a drastic overhaul of the party’s functioning, either personally or through an emissary.
The ‘G-23’ met on Wednesday and issued a statement calling for the Congress organisation to be revamped and accountability of the people involved in the election process be fixed.
“We believe that the only way forward for the Congress is to adopt the model of collective and inclusive leadership and decision making at all levels… in order to oppose the BJP, it is necessary to strengthen the Congress party. We demand that the Congress party initiate a dialogue with like-minded forces to create a platform to pave the way for a credible alternative in 2024,” the statement had said.

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