Congress crisis deepens as dissenters feel sidelined


The Congress Working Committee (CWC) may have asked Sonia Gandhi to remain party’s interim boss for now, but the crisis within the Grand Old Party appears to be far from over. There is no truce in the sight between 23 dissenters and the party leadership as Sonia Gandhi’s reported attempt to reach out to some of the disgruntled leaders such as Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mukul Wasnik, Anand Sharma and Kapil Sibal turned out to be an exercise in futility.

 Sources told The Daily Guardian that some senior Congress members would be appointed as vice president under the interim party boss Sonia Gandhi. Moreover, a four-member committee will also be formed to assist Sonia Gandhi in her day-today working.

 Meanwhile, the differences between dissenters and the leadership are growing day by day. The statements made by Kapil Sibal and Ghulam Nabi Azad in the past couple of days suggest that something much worse is waiting to happen in the Congress. It might lead to a split as well, say sources. Both the sides are said to be keeping a close watch on each other.

According to sources, the dissenters are keenly interested in the composition of the Congress party panel which will assist Sonia Gandhi. Sources say that if all 23 dissenters are kept out of the panel, it would lead to a full-scale war within the Congress. A subsequent split in the Congress then cannot be ruled out.

In a major development, Congress boss Sonia Gandhi did not include anyone of the dissenters in the panel formed to discuss and decide the party’s stand on key issues. This committee consists of Gandhi loyalists P. Chidambaram, Digvijaya Singh, Jairam Ramesh, a member from Punjab Amar Singh and Gaurav Gogoi. The Congress high command seems to have dropped enough indication of what it is going to do with those who raised their voice of dissent through the letter.

In another significant development fraught with the risk of a backlash within the Congress, the high command named Gaurav Gogoi as party’s deputy leader in Lok Sabha ignoring Manish Tewari who was one of the signatories to the letter. Similarly, Lok Sabha member from Ludhiana Ravneet Singh Bittu was also named as one of the whips of the party in the Lower House. Apart from Gogoi and Bittu, the group for the Lok Sabha will have Adhir Ranjan Choudhary, K. Suresh and Manickam Tagore as its members. While Chaudhary is the Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, Suresh is the chief whip, and Tagore and Bittu are the whips.

These appointments have upset the dissenters. Sources say that dissenters are complaining that two former Union ministers who were serious claimants have been ignored by the leadership. One of them is Manish Tewari who should have been considered for deputy leader post in the Lok Sabha. Another is Shashi Tharoor who should have been in the panel. The leadership has given a clear message to the dissenters that they will be treated like this for writing the letter to Sonia Gandhi ahead of the CWC meeting. Sources say that by appointing Patel and Rahul Gandhi loyalist Venugopal in the panel for the Rajya Sabha, the high command has given a signal to the dissenters what they have to see in days to come. Many of the dissenters say that Sibal should have been given a place in the panel of the Rajya Sabha. If a senior member like him has been sidelined and ignored, then it does not bode well for the party, say sources.