‘Team Rahul’ takes on UPA Ministers at Congress meeting

I A virtual meeting of Rajya Sabha members of the Congress on Thursday, chaired by party president Sonia Gandhi, witnessed a sharp exchange of views between former Ministers in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and members who are believed to be close to former party chief Rahul Gandhi, highly placed sources said.

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There has been no formal communication from the party on the closed-door brainstorming session.

According to sources who did not wish to be named, when former Law Minister Kapil Sibal questioned the party’s style of functioning, pointed to a lack of coordination and called for “introspection”, newly elected Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Satav countered it by stating that it was the UPA-II government that had “spoilt” the party’s prospects in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and brought its tally to 44.

ormer Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s observation about the Congress’s inability to generate much public support against the Modi government’s failures because of a “weak organisation” was also countered by the party’s general secretary-organisation, K.C. Venugopal, another close aide of Mr. Gandhi.

Former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was a part of the virtual meeting when Mr. Satav, who previously headed the Youth Congress and is believed to be a part of ‘Team Rahul’, blamed the UPA-II for the Congress’ current problems.

Apart from Dr. Singh, several Ministers of the UPA Cabinet, including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Jairam Ramesh, participated in the virtual meeting.

Given the current state of instability in the party, several members, including Abhishek Singhvi, Digvijaya Singh, Mr. Venugopal and Mr. Satav, strongly endorsed Assam MP Ripun Bora’s suggestion that Mr. Gandhi take over the reins of the party again.

The meeting, which went on for nearly four hours, was convened to discuss the current political situation, including the impact of COVID-19, the economic slump, and the stand-off with China.

Talking about the challenges of the past few months because of the pandemic, Ms. Gandhi informed her colleagues about her letters to the Prime Minister to help migrant workers through welfare measures, and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and (MGNREGA) the Food Security Act, among others.

The Congress chief accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of “toppling elected governments” instead of handling challenges, including China, which she described as a “grave challenge”.


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