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Congress MPs back Rahul Gandhi as party chief

Rahul Gandhi. File

Rahul Gandhi. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Lok Sabha members of the Congress party in a virtual meeting with party chief Sonia Gandhi on Saturday pitched for Rahul Gandhi to take over as “full time” Congress president once again.

The leadership issue assumes significance as Ms. Gandhi will be completing a year as the party’s interim president on August 10 and the Congress Working Committee (CWC) may well have to give her an extension.

While Rahul Gandhi did not respond to the demands, first raised by Kerala MP K. Suresh and backed by others, he launched a frontal attack on the Narendra Modi government by calling it a “failed government”.

He cited India-China border clashes and India’s rise to the third spot in terms of COVID-19 cases as “examples of failures”.

While the former Congress chief accused the Modi government of “misleading” and being “untruthful” with regard to the situation at the Ladakh border, his Lok Sabha colleague Manish Tewari is learnt to have said that even if Chinese troops withdrew now, it would only be after they had made a strategic point to India.

Mr. Gandhi is also learnt to have told his colleagues that the party should more forcefully raise people-centric issues as the common people have been most affected by the lockdown.

The video conference meet, which went on for over three hours, had been convened to discuss current issues such as the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, border clashes with China in Ladakh, economic distress, fuel price rise, restoration of MPLADS (Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme) funds, and the possibility of holding the monsoon session of Parliament.

Starting the proceedings, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said his impression was “that the government would delay the monsoon session as much as possible and may even utilise the provision of having a six-month interval between two sessions to avoid unsavoury questions”.

With 10-11 ordinances passed by the Centre during the pandemic, Mr. Chowdhury asked his colleagues “to keep their powder dry” to corner the government whenever Parliament reconvened. “In her remarks, Sonia-ji also expressed the view that it may be September by the time the Parliament meets,” said a Congress MP.

The Congress’ Lok Sabha leader is also learnt to have narrated his experience at the Public Accounts Committee on Friday, when Bharatiya Janata Party members objected to his proposal to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic “as that would have also led to a discussion on the PM-CARES Fund”.

“Why is the PM so scared of disclosing the names of those who donated money to him for PM-CARES? Everyone knows Chinese companies Huawei, Xiaomi, TikTok and OnePlus gave money. Why doesn’t he share the details?” Mr. Gandhi tweeted hours after the meeting.

Lok Sabha member Shashi Tharoor, who had praised Mr. Gandhi’s stand on the Sino-India border hostility and COVID-19, also shared his experience of trying to hold a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology that he heads.

While MPs shared their individual experiences on the migrant workers crisis because of the lockdown, COVID-19 management and the freezing of MPLADS funds, the leadership question took centrestage with over half a dozen MPs urging Mr. Gandhi to take over.

The stage for such a demand seems to have been set by senior party leader Digvijaya Singh who, just before the meeting, tweeted: “This is the crux of the matter and this is the challenge before Sonia ji Rahul ji and Priyanka ji. I am certain they would do it. The whole Congress Party Young Old everyone stands behind you and are ready to make whatever sacrifice you demand. So Rahul ji please LEAD.”

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2020 12:04:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/congress-mps-back-rahul-gandhi-as-party-chief/article32053781.ece

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