Karnataka Congress Leaders, Cadres Rally Behind Sonia, Rahul

Bengaluru:  Slamming the dissenting letter-writers, Karnataka Congress on Monday rallied behind the party’s interim president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi and urged them to lead the party.

“The party’s state unit stands by the leadership of the Gandhi family. Sonia has led the Congress during times of crisis and saved the party,” KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar told reporters here.

A party official told IANS that none from the state was among the 23 leaders who wrote a letter on August 7 to Sonia, seeking a revamp of the organisation and a full-fledged party president.

Urging Sonia not to step down but continue to lead the party through the current difficult phase, Shivakumar recalled that she took up the responsibility of reviving the party when it faced a leadership vacuum over 2 decades ago and brought it to power in the Centre and several states like Karnataka since then.

“As the party is going through a similar crisis as it was when you assumed the president’s post, your leadership and guidance are essential to revive its fortunes across the country,” asserted Shivakumar.

Assuring the support of the party’s state unit leaders and thousands of cadre from Karnataka, Shivakumar said that if she felt it was time to pass the leadership mantle, then Rahul should be persuaded to take up the post and guide the party.

“We will continue to be loyal to you and committed to the party and its ideology,” added Shivakumar.

Opposition leader in the assembly and former chief minister Siddaramaiah also urged Sonia to continue as the party’s president or convince Rahul to take up the position in her place if she wished to be relieved on health grounds.

“I am convinced that the Gandhi family alone can lead the party to success. I am confident that Rahul, under the guidance of his mother Sonia and other senior leaders, will lead the 135-year-old party. Even our party workers feel the same,” said Siddaramaiah.

Congress Working Committee (CWC) member and party’s Rajya Sabha member from the southern state Mallikarjun Kharge said the party should not forget the sacrifices and contributions made by the Nehru-Gandhi family for over a century.

They (Nehru-Gandhi family) stood like a rock for the idea of India and ensured we have built an equitable society and a strong democracy. Though Sonia has undergone a lot of personal turmoil, she always kept the nation and the party’s interests above everything else. Her hard work to bring the Congress back to power in 2004 and 2009 should not be forgotten,a Kharge told reporters here.

Kharge attended the day-long CWC meeting through video-conferencing from here.

Calling upon the party’s leaders and cadres across the country to stand by the Gandhi family during the hour of crisis, Kharge said that if for any reason Sonia was unwilling to continue in the post, Rahul should again take over as president and lead the party, setting all uncertainties to rest.

Rahul, 50, resigned as the party’s president after another rout in the May 2019 general elections, in which the Congress won only 52 Lok Sabha seats across the country, 8 more than in the May 2014 parliamentary polls under Sonia’s leadership after the party was in power for a decade since May 2004.

Former UPA minister and senior party leader from the southern state K.H. Muniyappa said only Sonia was able to hold the party together.

“Sonia has rescued the party from breaking up in 1998 and revived it to return to power in 2004 and 2009 at the Centre. Overcoming her personal loss and sacrificing her family life, she strived hard to rebuild the party across the country. Rahul also worked hard and brought the party to power in many states. Thousands of party cadres look up to them for inspiration and serving the people,” Muniyappa told IANS here.

The joint letter, signed by 23 dissident leaders, stated that “uncertainty over the leadership and the drift in the party have demoralised cadres and weakened the party.” The letter became public on Sunday ahead of the CWC meeting.