Congress dissenters find places in key party panels

Senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma. File photo   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Veerappa Moily and Shashi Tharoor, part of the Group of 23 (G-23) letter writers who had sought a revamp of the party earlier this year, were appointed members of three party committees by party president Sonia Gandhi on Friday.

The changes come amid a further churn in the party and calls for introspection over its poor show in the recently concluded Bihar Assembly election.

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While former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is part of all three panels, former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and senior leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Digvijaya Singh will be part of the economic affairs committee. Former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh will be the convener of the panel.

The committee on foreign affairs will have Mr. Sharma, Mr. Tharoor, Salman Khurshid and Saptagiri Ulaka, with Mr. Khurshid as the convener.

Mr. Azad, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, will be part of the committee on national security, which will also include Mr. Moily, Vincent H. Pala and V. Vaithilingam. Mr. Pala will be the convener of this committee.

The latest changes are meant to signal a more broad-based decision-making process in the party.

Earlier this week, senior leader Kapil Sibal’s comments that the Bihar election showed that voters did not consider the Congress a “viable alternative” and the leadership (the Gandhis) may be taking it as “business as usual” triggered a war of words.

Senior party leaders, including Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Mr. Khurshid and Mr. Kharge, defended the leadership. Lok Sabha member Karti Chidambaram endorsed Mr. Sibal’s views.

In a separate interview, the former Finance Minister acknowledged that Congress may have contested more seats than its ‘organisational strength’ in Bihar allowed and expressed concern over bye-polls losses across several States. In a separate interview, the former Finance Minister acknowledged that the Congress may have contested more seats than its “organisational strength” in Bihar allowed, and expressed concern over the byelection losses across several States.

However, in a series of tweets on Friday, he said the “decline” in the BJP’s performance after the 2019 Lok Sabha election was “visible and significant” despite the Bihar win.

“Even after the Bihar Assembly elections, the decline in BJP’s performance after 2019 Lok Sabha elections is visible and significant. Of the 464 Assembly segments that the BJP contested both in 2019 and in subsequent Assembly polls and bypolls, the BJP has won only 218 segments. On the contrary, in 2019 the BJP had won 392 segments,” Mr. Chidambaram said.

“As I have pointed out, the MGB lost to the NDA by a whisker of 0.03%. The elections turned on 8 seats. If the MGB had won 8 more seats, the result would have been 118 to 117 ( instead of 110 to 125) Significantly, the HAM [Hindustan Awam Morcha] and VIP [Vikasheel Insaan Party] won 8 seats!,” he added.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 3:35:33 AM |

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