Exclusive: Congress losing edge as Opposition without full-time leader, says Prithviraj Chavan

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said the Congress is losing its edge as an effective opposition party in the absence of a full-time president.

Speaking exclusively to Mumbai Tak, Chavan highlighted a host of issues that need to be highlighted by opposition parties, but added that Congress party has been destabilized without a full-time leader.

Chavan was among the senior party leaders who wrote to Congress Interim President Sonia Gandhi on August 7. They sought a full-time leader who can contribute more time to party affairs.

Read | Congress leadership crisis: Rahul Gandhi wanted old guard out, letter to Sonia was response to overhaul plan

The 74-year-old explained that some Congress leaders came together to write the letter to Sonia Gandhi because the party has been struggling since its defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, following which Rahul Gandhi had resigned.

Congress has been facing a leadership crisis since Gandhi resigned a year ago. Chavan said the party could not even analyse what went wrong in the general elections in the absence of a leader.

While Sonia Gandhi took over as interim president after Rahul Gandhi, Chavan said it was hard for her to be available at all times due to health issues.

Chavan pointed out how the Congress failed to defend its position in states like Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. “So, we have been thinking that Congress needs a full-time leader,” Chavan said.

All the senior leaders who were concerned about the leadership crisis wanted to meet Sonia Gandhi initially, but were forced to write a letter as they were not allotted time by the interim president.

Chavan, however, made it absolutely clear that the letter did not have any ‘anti-Gandhi’ propaganda. He further clarified that the letter did not have any mention of a non-Gandhi party president.

“If Rahul Gandhi is ready to take up the responsibility then nothing like it, but he is not keen to take up presidentship at this point of time,” Chavan said.

“Sonia Gandhi is unable to devote time needed due to health issues so we requested that we need working parliamentary board which is not in existence in the party for many years,” he added.

“There is nothing wrong in that.”

Chavan also mentioned that the leaders, who wrote to Sonia Gandhi, expected the letter to be discussed in the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, which was called soon after the letter went public.

However, Chavan said only four leaders who signed the letter were called for the CWC meeting and added that the letter was never discussed.

“We hoped that there will be discussion on the letter but instead allegations were made, most of the leaders who chose to attack us have not read the letter,” Chavan said.

But nothing has changed in terms of leadership after the latest CWC meeting. Sonia Gandhi continues to act as the party’s interim president as a temporary arrangement.

Chavan said he will request Rahul Gandhi to accept the post of the president once again. In case Gandhi’s decision remains unchanged, Chavan said it would become an imperative for the party to begin with the process of electing a new president.

Also Read | Almost 100 Congress leaders were behind letter to CWC in show of discontent in party ranks

Also Watch | Time has come for full-term and full-time president: Shashi Tharoor on Congress leadership crisis



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