'It's impossible to get an appointment with Sonia'
Fourteen ex-MPs of the Congress party have slammed the coterie around Congress president Sonia Gandhi and blamed senior managers and party general secretaries for the widening gap between the leadership and the workers and the lack of communication and interaction.
"So much so that it is impossible to get an appointment with Sonia from one year to the next," complained a senior leader at the meeting organised on Thursday.
Organised by former union minister Aslam Sher Khan, 13 ex-MPs and one sitting MP got together to discuss, "how to revitalise the Congress and inspire Congressmen to strengthen the party's political system, governance and national values".
Speaking almost in one voice, the Congress leaders were of the view that "there is no communication with the leadership", that many senior leaders were sitting at home and that there were no attempts being made to pull them back into active mainstream and use them for party work.
They also charged that the coterie around Sonia was responsible for the widening gap between the leader and the workers, that powerbrokers were keeping Sonia and Rahul Gandhi away from partymen.
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Those who are close to Sonia and Rahul are keeping the latter in the dark
Besides this, another complaint is that the managers and others who are close to Sonia and Rahul are keeping the latter in the dark and in the process controlling both the party and the government.
An ex-MP claimed that it was the job of the general secretaries to bring back the leaders who may be sitting at home and may not be pushing themselves because they were hurt or because of self respect.
He said that many of them were not able to get an appointment from Sonia Gandhi for one to two years. Some even longer.
It was decided that the deliberations of what they called the "seminar" should be sent to sonia gandhi so that she is kept in the loop on the feelings of partymen and that these discussions should be held at least once in a month so that more and more people are involved and it becomes a regular forum for exchange of views.
There was also a chorus that Rahul be made the prime minister as early as possible.
Finally, an internal debate within the Congress
There was concern that in large parts of the country the Congress was losing its moorings. It was felt that the distance was increasing and for that the leadership would need to take corrective steps.
While no names were mentioned, a leader present there said that it was clear who was being referred to and there was "no need to take names".
It is interesting that after a long time, Aslam Sher Khan has revived an old custom of the Congress where internal debate would take place on programmes and policies, on the direction of the party and which way it was headed.
Under Sonia's presidentship, dissent and debate had virtually petered out and the fact that a feeble attempt has been made to discuss issues, is being seen as a welcome sign in many sections of the party.