Leadership issue returns to centre stage in Congress

Sanjay Jha.  

It is a “false” claim that Congress has a robust internal mechanism to listen to its members, Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha has said, publicly questioning the party’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an opinion piece in a leading newspaper on Sunday, Mr. Jha also said that at a time when the Narendra Modi government “seemed clueless about basic governance, the Congress should have presented an alternative white paper on governance”.

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Playing down Mr Jha’s charge of the Congress not having internal mechanism for an open and frank exchange of ideas, senior party leader Ajay Maken said, “I don't think there is any dearth of internal decision making or discussion mechanism in our party...Whenever I wanted to put across my point of view, I have been able to do that.”

“The kind of discussion Rahulji [Rahul Gandhi] is holding with the best experts in the world, talking about India, what India should be doing is an example in itself,” Mr. Maken told reporters in response to piece at an online press conference. 

Speaking to The Hindu about Congress’ COVID strategy, Mr. Jha suggested that the principal opposition party should have followed a Westminster-like model shadow cabinet system.

“We have been reacting in an episodic manner,” said the Congress leader, adding, “Let’s say on the issue of giving money to the poor, we could have said this is the Budget and this is the money we need to spend. This is how much we will monetize the debt, borrow and raise tax revenues. The ideas need to be compelling for the government to follow.”

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On the lack of internal mechanism to air divergent opinion, Mr. Jha said, “Can you tell me one forum where Congress members are regularly invited to have a free exchange of ideas and opinions?”

The Congress may have officially played down the unexpected opinion piece, but Mr. Jha’s observations not only many have takers within the party but has once brought the focus back to the key leadership question: who can revive the Congress party and how?

Endorsing Mr. Jha's comments, former Lok Sabha member Sandeep Dikshit said only those party members speak out who don’t want any rewards except a revival of the Congress.

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“Most of the people who are speaking out have the good of the nation and the party much more [at heart] than those who are in the party establishment,” Mr. Dikshit, son of late former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, told The Hindu.

He also complained about contrarian views not finding much acceptance within the Congress system and the inability of senior leaders to take a clear stand on issues.

“The party should be weary of the Darbari (courtiers) culture that is encroaching more than ever before,” the Delhi Congress leader said.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2021 9:38:55 PM |

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