Sonia counters G-23, says 'I'm full-time President'
New Delhi, October 16, 2021
Responding to queries by Congress dissenters over who takes decisions in the party, Sonia Gandhi said on Saturday that she was the "full-time and hands-on Congress President".
"I am, if you will allow me to say so, a full-time and hands-on Congress President," she said while addressing the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting.
The Congress President was responding to questions raised by a group of leaders led by Kapil Sibal over the party's decision-making process and apprehending that former President Rahul Gandhi is taking all the decisions.
"You are aware that I have been taking them up with the Prime Minister as have Dr. Manmohan Singh and Rahul ji. I have been interacting with like-minded political parties regularly. We have issued joint statements on national issues and coordinated our strategy in Parliament as well," Sonia Gandhi said in her remarks on Saturday.
In her opening address, she slammed the Congress leaders for speaking to the media
"I have always appreciated frankness. There is no need to speak to me through the media. So let us all have a free and honest discussion. But what should get communicated outside the four walls of this room is the collective decision of the CWC."
In her remarks on Saturday, she also said the party is ready for the internal elections.
"The entire organisation wants a revival of the Congress. But this requires unity and keeping the party's interests paramount. Above all, it requires self-control and discipline. I am acutely conscious of the fact that I have been interim Congress President ever since the CWC asked me to return in this capacity in 2019. We had thereafter, you may recall, finalised a roadmap for electing a regular President by June 30, 2021."
But due to the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic in the country, this deadline was extended indefinitely by the CWC in its meeting held on May 10, she added.
"Today is the occasion for bringing clarity once and for all. A schedule for the full-fledged organisational elections is before you."
She also praised young leaders for taking over leadership role
"In the last two years, a large number of our colleagues, particularly the younger ones have taken on leadership roles in taking party policies and programmes to the people, whether it be the agitation of farmers, provision of relief during the pandemic, highlighting issues of concern to youth and women, atrocities on Dalits, Adivasis and minorities, price rise, and the destruction of the public sector. Never have we let issues of public importance and concern go unaddressed."
Regarding the farmers protests, the Congress interim President said: "The shocking incidents at Lakhimpur Kheri betrays the mindset of the BJP, how it perceives the Kisan Andolan, how it has been dealing with this determined struggle by Kisans to protect their lives and livelihoods.
She said that the economy continues to be a cause of great concern in spite of the government propaganda and the only answer the Centre seems to have for the country's economic recovery is selling off national assets built with great effort over the decades.
"The public sector has had not just strategic and economic objectives, it has had social goals as well, as, for instance, empowerment of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and development of backward areas. But all this is in jeopardy with the Modi government's single-point agenda of 'Becho, Becho, Becho'."
She said that prices of essential commodities, including food and fuel continue to rise unabated.
"Could anyone in the country ever imagine that petrol prices would be over 100 Rs rupees a litre, diesel would be nearing the Rs 100 a litre mark, a gas cylinder would cost Rs 900 and cooking oil would be Rs 200 a litre. This is making life unbearable for people across the country."
Sonia Gandhi also condemned the killings in Jammu and Kashmir and said minorities clearly have been targeted.
"This must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. We have done so and I do so again this morning. Jammu and Kashmir has been a Union Territory for two years. The entire responsibility for bringing the perpetrators of these barbaric crimes to justice is that of the Union government. Restoring social peace and harmony and confidence amongst the people in Jammu and Kashmir rests with the Modi government too.
"There has always been a broad consensus on foreign and neighbourhood policy in our country. But that consensus has been damaged because of the Prime Minister continued reluctance to take the Opposition into confidence in any meaningful manner. Foreign policy has become a diabolical instrument of electoral mobilisation and polarisation. We face serious challenges on our borders and on other fronts. The Prime Minister telling the opposition leaders last year that there had not been any occupation of our territory by China and his silence ever since is costing our nation dearly," she added.
The Congress faces many challenges but, "if we are united, if we are disciplined and if we focus on the party's interests alone, I am confident that we will do well".