The Congress should revive itself as the country needs a strong opposition party and Rahul Gandhi is its only leader with “unanimous acceptability”, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Thursday, in an eye-catching endorsement of the long-time political adversary-turned-ally.
“The country requires a strong opposition party and the Congress has a pan-India identity. The party should recover from the present turmoil and resume work,” the Sena MP was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
“Sonia Gandhi is ageing and I don’t see Priyanka Gandhi in full-time politics. There are many senior leaders in the party, due to whom Rahul Gandhi is not being able to work… I don’t see a non-Gandhi leader in the Congress as the party president,” he said.
Earlier in the day, an editorial in the Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamana, which is led by Mr Raut, said that the letter written by 23 senior Congress leaders to Sonia Gandhi over their demand for a “full time” party president is a “conspiracy to finish off Rahul Gandhi’s leadership”.
The paper asked where these leaders were when the BJP was indulging in “below the belt attacks” on Rahul Gandhi, and after he quit as the Congress president why they did not take up the challenge to revive the party.
“When people from within are involved in the national conspiracy to finish off Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, the party is sure to meet its “panipat” (defeat)… these old guards have sabotaged Rahul Gandhi internally, a damage which even the BJP hasn’t inflicted on him,” it added.
The Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Monday unanimously urged Sonia Gandhi to stay on as the party chief till a new president is appointed and authorised her to bring about organisational changes to take on the challenges within.
Mrs Gandhi had said she wanted to move on from the controversy over the letter, saying “bygones are bygones”, but the Congress appears to be still in churn with reports of the so-called dissenters being targeted within the party.