Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Sunday said the Gandhi family has kept the party united and the letter written by senior Congress leaders over the leadership issue is an unfortunate move.
Gehlot said Sonia Gandhi should continue to lead the party and if she has made up her mind, then Rahul Gandhi should come ahead and be the Congress president as the country faces the biggest challenge to save its democracy.
He said the leaders who are said to have written the letter have worked with the party for long and this was not expected of them.
"I am not aware of any such letter but if this is true, then it is unbelievable and very unfortunate. They all have worked with the party for so long and the move of writing the letter is uncalled for," Gehlot said.
He said Congress president Sonia Gandhi took reins of the party in 1998 and despite all challenges, she continued holding the party united.
"She became the party president in 1998 in challenging circumstances and has been the saviour of the party. She took all challenges head on. Today, despite her health issues, she is still holding the 'Congress Kunba' (party) united. Is it a small thing?" Gehlot added.
Ahead of the Congress Working Committee meeting on Monday, different voices have emerged within the party with one section comprising sitting MPs and former ministers demanding a collective leadership, while another group has sought the return of Rahul Gandhi to the helm.
Some Congress leaders, including ex-ministers, have written to party president Sonia Gandhi for the overhaul of the organisational structure and changes to the leadership.
The letter by former ministers and some MPs was believed to have been written a few weeks ago and sets the stage for a stormy Congress Working Committee meeting on Monday where issues flagged by dissenters are expected to be discussed and debated.
Gehlot said Sonia Gandhi declined to take up the post of prime minister and none of her family members became PM or minister at the Centre in three decades.
"If they had any fascination, Sonia Gandhi could have become the prime minister earlier, but P V Narasimha Rao and later Manmohan Singh were made the prime ministers. Congressmen in all regions have trust over Gandhi's leadership," he said.
The Rajasthan chief minister later tweeted, "I strongly believe that Hon'ble CP Smt Sonia Gandhi ji should continue to lead the party at this crucial juncture where the fight is to save the ethos of our Democracy. She has always taken challenges head on. But if she has made up her mind -- I believe @RahulGandhi should come ahead and be the Congress president as country faces the biggest challenge to save our Constitution - Democracy."
Gehlot said democracy is under threat and a struggle to save it is going on and therefore, "we should not step back".
"The Gandhi family has kept the party united and in the time of crisis, we need them," he said.
"It is disappointing that the letter was written and it was taken to the media. There is a wide acceptability of the family in all caste, creed and regions across the country," he said.
Gehlot also said that the letter has created resentment among party workers.
"If the sentiments of the party workers are hurt for personal things and the party falls apart, then history will not forgive us," the chief minister said