With Sonia Gandhi back as the party president, Congress Organisational Secretary K C Venugopal shares his insights with Richa Sharma on the road ahead for the grand old party, desertions, Article 370 and the upcoming Assembly elections.
Sonia Gandhi is back at the helm of the Congress. Is it the reflection of a leadership crisis?
Congress has no dearth of leadership. There are a number of capable leaders in the national and state level. However, in politics, we have to take a decision according to the current political circumstances. In the absence of Rahul Gandhi, the leadership felt that Sonia’s experience and vibrant leadership is necessary to unify the party. As a party believing in internal democracy, we have to take decisions as per the opinion of our workers and leaders, not according to the whims of our political opponents.
CWC did not succeed in building consensus on a non-Gandhi party chief. Was there a division between old and young guards in the party?
The party workers and leaders are proud to work under the Gandhi family. All Congressmen cherish their sacrifices. There is no division in the party. It is only a misunderstanding and media hype. Although there are different opinions within the party, once a decision is made, all Congress workers and leaders will comply with it. There are veterans, old generation and young leaders in the party, and they may have different viewpoints on different issues. These differences never resulted in fights. The leadership of Sonia Gandhi will take into account all the differences and viewpoints, and the party will function as a united body.
When is the party expected to hold AICC session to elect a new president? How long is Sonia expected to continue as interim chief?
The party will take a decision as per the constitution of the Indian National Congress.
Many senior leaders, including Rajya Sabha MPs, have left the Congress citing lack of leadership and ideological erosion. How will the party ensure to stop the crossovers?
We do not believe that it is happening because of any leadership or ideological crisis. Many times, such incidents have occurred in the long history of Congress. Leaving the party in its difficult times and finding asylum among those who enjoy the power is mere opportunism. We will witness their true colours in near future. The party has witnessed worse times and has overcome crises. The party is pledged to preserve the integrity, democracy and secularism in the country. The party will never dilute its core ideology.
There has been a growing dissent among the ranks that came to fore on the party’s stand regarding Article 370. How does the party plan to keep its members together?
Article 370 deserved to be honoured until it was amended, after consultation with all sections of the people by strictly in accordance with the Constitution of India. The Working Committee passed a resolution condemning the unilateral, brazen and totally undemocratic manner in which Article 370 of the Constitution was abrogated.
Now that the new party chief is selected, what will be the strategy to take on the BJP in four state elections as there has been factionalism in many poll-bound states?
We have started the election work and strategies in these states. We will vigorously campaign against the divisive political agenda of the BJP. There is an unprecedented job crisis and economic slowdown in the country. We will divert all our efforts and attention to these states to prepare for elections.
Will the party elect its full-time president through a democratic process?
The party will act according to the constitution for selecting a new president.