Sonia Meets Congress Leaders Months After They Wrote To Her Seeking Party Overhaul

A crucial meeting of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and some dissenters from the group of 23, apart from other senior leaders, began on Saturday morning with an aim to end the ongoing crisis in the party and discuss steps needed to strengthen the organisation in the wake of series of electoral setbacks. Ghulam Nabi Azad, leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and one of the 23 Congress leaders who wrote to Gandhi earlier this year seeking a complete overhaul of the organisation as well as internal elections from top to bottom, and another letter writer, Anand Sharma, reached the 10 Janpath residence of the party chief for the meeting. Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and state Congress president Kamal Nath, and senior leaders Ambika Soni, AK Antony and P Chidambaram were also attending the meeting. Former Union ministers and letter writers Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari, former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda (a part of the group of 23 leaders), the Congress general secretary incharge of Punjab, Harish Rawat, and the party’s interim treasurer, Pawan Kumar Bansal, too, reached Gandhi’s residence. Also present were Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, party general secretary Ajay Maken, and former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan. A Congress functionary said Gandhi was also keen to see an immediate end to the crisis and discuss the ways to bolster the party, which suffered setbacks in recent by-elections as well as rural polls in Rajasthan. “She wants to bring all the warring leaders together and end the current impasse in the party. She wants all the leaders to work in close coordination with Rahul Gandhi in strengthening the party,” he said, requesting anonymity. He further said the Congress president did not want to isolate the dissenters pushing for organisational overhaul and internal elections from top to bottom. The group of 23 signatories, also known as G-23, had written to the Congress president in August, seeking full-time and active leadership and introspection behind the “steady decline” of the 135-year-old organisation while outlining an 11-point action plan.

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