Sonia Gandhi Agrees to Meet 23 ‘Rebel’ Leaders on Saturday

Former party president Rahul Gandhi is also expected to be present in the meeting.

2 min read
Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi is expected to begin her interactions with senior party leaders from 19 December to finalise the future course of action ahead of the much-awaited organisational elections, including the appointment of the new party president.

Sonia is expected to meet members of the so called “group of 23” to discuss measures towards resolving the leadership issue in the Congress party. Alongside the demand for elections to the Congress Working Committee (CWC), issues that are likely to be discussed include alliances in upcoming elections, farmer protests as well as revival of the Parliamentary Board - the key decision-making body of the party.

Nearly four months after 23 top Congress leaders wrote to Sonia Gandhi seeking the party’s revival, the meeting may serve as a platform for some of the “rebel” leaders to discuss Rahul Gandhi’s functioning as a leader.

While Rahul is also expected to be present in the meeting, there has been no indication so far of the former president’s willingness to return as the party president.

This will be the first-in-person meeting headed by Sonia Gandhi since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Congress chief had been holding online meetings with the party members. Her meeting with party veteran Kamal Nath a few days ago was the first in this exercise of resolving the leadership question.

Meeting in the Backdrop of Poor Election Results

According to NDTV, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath had advised the Congress chief to meet the group of “rebel” leaders. Nath has stressed upon the need to assuage the concerns of the “dissenters”.

Sources said, the idea of this meeting has come from Priyanka and Kamalnath.

The meeting comes amid continuing criticism from some of the dissenting leaders, including veteran leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Kapil Sibal, after Congress’ performance in Bihar bypolls.

The recent below-par performance in the Kerala local body elections is also expected to underline the issue of Rahul’s leadership in elections.

According to News18, the meeting is being held ahead of Congress Working Committee which will approve the schedule for the party president’s elections. However, the uncertainty over whether Rahul Gandhi would agree to being nominated for the president post continues.

Asked if they had been invited for talks, one of the Group-23 leaders told The Telegraph, “We haven’t received any call. But why is our meeting with Soniaji generating so much curiosity? She is our leader and we have strong personal and political bonding. There is no rift whatsoever at the personal level even if we have some differences over political issues.”

(With inputs from Week, NDTV, News18)

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