NEW DELHI: A day after the Congress brainstormed over its electoral reverses, senior leader M Veerappa Moily on Monday said Sonia Gandhi should take "full control" of the party with a free hand to change non-performing leaders, and asserted that a "mere culture of tweets and social media propaganda" would not take the organisation forward.
Party loyalists have become a casualty as "opportunists" have crept into the organisation, he contended.
He stressed that introspection by the party on the reasons for the electoral defeat was needed, but added that "none of the Congress leaders or workers should become panicky and the unity of Congress cadres at this juncture is the need of the nation''.
Moily, who was among the 23 leaders who had written to Sonia Gandhi for large-scale organisational reforms, distanced himself from the group (G-23) and said his intention was never to target the top leadership of the party.
"I am deeply concerned by certain comments made by our leaders and some quarters of the press on the debacle of Indian National Congress immediately after the announcement of results in five states and the earlier poll debacles," Moily told PTI in an interview.
He said he is not worried about the loss either in Lok Sabha polls or the assembly elections, but is concerned about the remarks made by some of the party leaders who he claimed always targeted the top leadership of the party.
"When I was asked to sign the memorandum for revamping the Congress party, it was never intended to target the top leadership. That is why I am not associating with them thereafter," the former Union minister, who was known to be a Sonia Gandhi-loyalist, said.
Asserting that the leadership of the Congress party cannot be associated with dynastic rule, he cited that the members of the Gandhi family had the backing of the people over the years, right from Jawaharlal Nehru's time.
"Majority of Lok Sabha members not only of the Congress Party but also other secular parties projected Sonia Gandhi to be the prime minister. But she chose the greatest economist ever produced by the country, Dr.Manmohan Singh. Sonia Gandhi could have become the prime minister if she had chosen to," he said, referring to the formation of the UPA government.
"Rahul Gandhi was also asked to become a minister by Dr. Manmohan Singh but he was not willing. It is only for their love of the Indian National Congress which compelled both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to take up the cause of the Congress party," he said.
Asserting that the Congress is the foundation and edifice of the future of Indian democracy, he said it is the legacy of democracy and freedom struggle which was behind the Congress occupying the seat of power for over 60 years and it was the BJP or the Jan Sangh which suffered the drought of power for decades.
"Hence, 10 years of NDA rule should not worry any of us or loss of few states for a few years should not bother us," he said.
While the decision of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) to organise a "Chintan Shivir" is welcome, Moily said it has to be supplemented by introspection of the reasons for the debacles suffered by the party.
"Indira Gandhi always believed in building the party from the bottom to the top -- Block Congress, District Congress, Pradesh Congress and AICC exclusively with loyalists of the party.
We find that opportunists have crept into the organisation," he said.
Hailing the UPA rule, Moily said Sonia Gandhi headed the National Advisory Committee as UPA chairperson and provided the most progressive laws like the Right to Information and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
"Sonia Gandhi with the best of intentions formed the 'group to look into future challenges' under my chairmanship with prominent young leaders. The said committee submitted its first report also. The Committee was not given chance to submit other reports," he said.
"Sonia Gandhi convened two or three meetings for implementation of the recommendations. But again our leaders failed us and watered-down the recommendations of the group and it was not Sonia Gandhi but her advisors who failed us," Moily said.
He asserted that it is the "right and best" time for Sonia Gandhi to take "full control" of the party, revamp the party both at the state and AICC levels.
Those holding positions in the party should give her a fair and free hand to change leaders who have failed both in the organisation and governance, he argued.
"The youth of the nation need Congress to change its style of functioning and also to get into a vibrant mode to respond to the time and aspirations of the youth. Mere culture of tweets and social media propaganda will not take the party forward," Moily said.
"Instead of targeting the top leadership, we should target achieving the national ideals. Congress is endowed with a duty to nurture and promote inclusive and democratic ideals, as these virtues are under real threat," he said.
The CWC on Sunday decided that Sonia Gandhi should continue as interim chief till organisational polls after she expressed readiness to "make any and every sacrifice" in the party's interest.
The party's internal polls are scheduled and it has stated that the new Congress chief will be elected between August 21 and September 20.
Sonia Gandhi became interim chief in 2019 after Rahul Gandhi resigned following the party's Lok Sabha polls debacle.
senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday said all the party MPs and leaders in states are responsible for the poll debacle and not the Gandhi family.
Kharge, who is the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, said the BJP/RSS and the prime minister attack the Gandhis all the time and if all the leaders do not stand with them at this time, it would be "betrayal".
"Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have been fighting for a cause and have taken on the BJP/RSS head on. They have often been attacked by the BJP/RSS and the prime minister and in such times, if we don't stand with them, we would be betraying ourselves," he told PTI.
The senior Congressman said Sonia Gandhi has made several sacrifices for the party and devoted her entire life for building the Congress and none of the members of the Gandhi family have occupied any positions in the government for many years.
"She has never asked for any position. She built the party from the scratch and it is unfair if we still attack her. We all want her to continue to lead the party and we will stand with her. We took a unanimous decision that she should lead from the front and reinforce our faith and win back the trust of people," Kharge said.
He also said that all CWC members told Sonia Gandhi that she alone is not responsible and every state leader and every Member of Parliament is responsible for this defeat of the party in the five states and not the Gandhi family.
Kharge said there was "no question" of her resigning as the focus now will be on how to strengthen the party in the next round of elections.
"We will continue our fight against the BJP and its ideology. We will push our ideology and convince the people and win back their trust. We hope that in the coming elections, we will do much better," he said.
"Whatever lapses and shortcomings are there, we will try to correct them and will take to the streets to reconnect with people at the grassroots level," the former Union minister said.
Extending support to Sonia Gandhi, Kerala Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said, "For the past three decades, the Congress has withstood many storms.
Soniaji stood like a rock in such adverse situations preventing any weathering.
I would like to thank entire CWC for standing behind Soniaji and reimposing faith in her leadership.