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'Sonia wanted Congress to choose non-Gandhi leader'

By SHEELA BHATT
Last updated on: August 25, 2020 09:45 IST
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'Let me reveal for the first time that around August 2019 Congress President Sonia Gandhi told the Congress leadership and CWC members to form a consensus over the name of a non-Gandhi leader.'

IMAGE: Interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi attends the Congress Working Committee's virtual meeting in New Delhi, August 24, 2020. Photograph: ANI Photo
 

In an exclusive interview to Senior Rediff.com Contributor Sheela Bhatt, Ahmed Patel, former political secretary to interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi, says, "The letter written to interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi is an internal matter of the party. The Congress has decades of experience in handling dissents and disagreements. Our leaderships have always kept open windows and doors for fresh ideas to come in."

Patel spoke soon after the seven hour-long Congress Working Committee meeting on Monday, August 24, where around 48 Congressmen spoke either in favour of a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family or in favour of addressing issues affecting the party's functioning.

At the end, Sonia Gandhi managed a victory out of a depressing situation.

When the CWC discussions ended, dissenters and loyalists all signed the resolution requesting Sonia Gandhi to continue to lead the party.

Ahmedbhai, a reticent and media shy politician who is currently a member of the Rajya Sabha, answered Rediff.com's questions in a telephonic conversation.

In his long intervention at the CWC meeting on Monday, Patel requested Rahul Gandhi to take over the leadership of the Congress party.

How do you see the letter written by 23 Congressmen demanding changes in the party's functioning?

It is an internal matter of the party.

The Congress has decades of experience in handling dissents and disagreements. Our leaderships have always kept open windows and doors for fresh ideas to come in.

We continue to work hard to keep our core character intact. Our core values reflect the Indian people's basic concerns for security, integration of various communities and prosperous future of India.

Mausam badalte hum apna imaan ya pehchaan nahi badalte (Seasons change, but our integrity and identity do not change).

But you are losing election after election. Voters are deserting you, the cadre is demoralised. These are hard facts, you can't deny it.

Really? In that case, how did we won three important Hindi states?

In 2014, there were many reasons behind our defeat. Ten years of rule invariably brings anti-incumbency.

But I strongly believe that in the eyes of the Indian voters -- notwithstanding victories and defeats -- the Congress's aura of being a national party is intact.

I acknowledge we are facing historic challenges and having setbacks due to the BJP's no-holds-barred politics without any Lakshmanrekhas. But we won't violate the Lakshmanrekha drawn by our past presidents and leaders including Gandhiji, Nehru and Patel.

Your party is controlled by the Gandhis. This dynastic politics is a major hurdle in its growth.

We have better inner democracy than the BJP. I challenge you to prove otherwise.

Is the BJP president elected through a ballot?

Do you think the RSS doesn't play a role in the nomination of the BJP president?

Also, let me reveal for the first time that around August 2019 Congress President Sonia Gandhi told the Congress leadership and CWC (Congress Working Committee) members to form a consensus over a name of a non-Gandhi leader.

She would have preferred the Congress unitedly selecting any non-Gandhi leader. She is a true democrat.

I said at the CWC meeting that Rahulji must come forward and take charge.

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SHEELA BHATT / Rediff.com
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