Cong Responds to ‘Year-Old’ Priyanka Comment on Non-Gandhi Prez

In an interview published in a new book, Priyanka said she agreed that the party president shouldn’t be a Gandhi.

2 min read
Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi. 

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala has sought to downplay remarks made by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in which she agreed with the view that someone not from the Gandhi family should be appointed Congress president.

“We at (Congress) appreciate the sudden media interest (egged on by BJP) in a year-old remark (Dated 1st July, 2019) of Smt. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. The context today is to take on the vicious attack on India's polity by Modi-Shah dispensation and fight it fearlessly on front foot,” Surjewala tweeted.

He also noted that the Nehru-Gandhi family had held the Congress party together and were not concerned with the “trappings of power”, referencing Sonia Gandhi’s refusal to stand for prime minister in 2004 and Rahul Gandhi’s decision to step down as president in 2019.

Priyanka’s comments, revealed in an interview excerpted from the book India Tomorrow: Conversations with the Next Generation of Political Leaders (by Pradeep Chibber and Harsh Shah), were made in the context of her brother’s decision to resign his post last year. Upon his resignation, Rahul is reported to have favoured a non-Gandhi taking over as president of the party.

In the interview, Priyanka says, “Perhaps not in the (resignation) letter but elsewhere, he has said that none of us should be the president of the party and I am in full agreement with him.” She also talks about the need for the party to find its own path.

Priyanka, who is general secretary of the Congress, clarified that whoever is Congress president would be her boss, and that if they told her that they didn’t want her in Uttar Pradesh (where she currently operates) “but wants me to be in Andaman and Nicobar, then I would jolly well go to Andaman and Nicobar.”

The remarks made in the interview have been back in the public eye with the publication of the book by Chibber and Shah on 13 August, generating further speculation about who will lead the grand old party, now that Sonia Gandhi’s one-year tenure as interim president is over.

In addition to Surjewala’s comments, Congress MP Shaktisingh Gokil, also one of the party’s national spokespersons, claimed that former UPA prime minister Manmohan Singh had offered to resign and make way for Rahul Gandhi, but the latter had declined, according to NDTV.

Gokil’s comments are reportedly meant to remind people that Rahul has never ‘hankered’ for power, and comes at a time when there has been speculation that the party may be looking to bring the Gandhi scion back as party president, a post he held from December 2017 to July 2019.

Surjewala’s tweets also made oblique reference to this, noting that:

“Millions of Congress workers & leaders have seen that Sh. Rahul Gandhi has led the fight tireleesly, undaunted by the setbacks & vile attacks by Modi Govt on a daily basis. It is this fearlessness & uncompromising courage that INC requires, Workers respect & Nation needs.”

Although Sonia’s one-year term as interim president of the party ended on 10 August, the party has said she will remain in charge till the process of appointing a new president is completed.

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