Congress chief: Janardan Dwivedi asks Rahul Gandhi to form a panel

New Delhi: Veteran Congress leader Janardan Dwivedi Tuesday questioned the selection process of a new party president and said Rahul Gandhi should have formulated a mechanism to suggest the name of his successor as technically he is still the party chief.

Dwivedi, who held the all-important position of AICC general secretary (organisation) for over two decades, said convention and norms should be followed in electing a new party president.

"Who is selecting the new Congress president? As far as I understand the Congress party's constitution, Rahul Gandhi continues to be the party president. Probably, on that basis, some fresh appointments have also been made," he said.

"If he (Gandhi) continues to be the party chief, on what basis is the election of the new Congress president being done. Who is doing it?" Dwivedi posed.

The credibility of the panel holding informal discussions about selecting a Congress chief would have been more if it was set up formally, the veteran Congress leader said.

"There should have been some mechanism which the present Congress president Rahul Gandhi should have formulated which could have suggested a name for the new party chief and put before the working committee for it to endorse," Dwivedi said.

He said if Gandhi forms a formal panel, it can hold talks with party workers and leaders across the country before suggesting a name for the post of Congress president. The Congress Working Committee (CWC), the highest decision-making body of the party, could then ratify the appointment.

He cited the example of Sonia Gandhi forming a four-member panel to look after party affairs and take decisions when she had gone abroad for her treatment.

"But, where is such a committee now? Who constituted it?" Dwivedi asked, adding, "There would have been credibility, if there was a formal set up and a committee was formed. Then there would have been no confusion among party workers."

"What kind of committee is it where A K Antony has not gone even once. To my knowledge, he is not attending that meetings."

Meetings are being convened in the name of coordination committee, which was formed for the Lok Sabha polls which are over, the veteran leader said.

He said there is a myth that an election is held for the Congress president, as that has been done on only four or five occasions in the 134-year history of party.

Lauding Rahul Gandhi's decision to resign from the post of Congress president, he said, "Till the time you are ready to leave something, you will not get anything back."

"This country is for those who are giving. Mahatma Gandhi, Vinobha Bhave could have become anything, but they chose not to accept any post and set an ideal which we have followed," the veteran leader noted.

In response to a question, he said, "Rahul Gandhi's resignation establishes an ideal that other leaders in the party should follow."

Dwivedi said had the party worked on the principle of sacrifice, as shown by Sonia Gandhi who resigned and now Rahul Gandhi, "it could have progressed and the present situation would not have come to pass.

But, those holding a position in the party is not ready to quit.""I maintain that in a party, organisation, society or country in which the voice of independent thinking is not heard, healthy democracy cannot prevail and democratic principles cannot be safeguarded," he noted.

Dwivedi said he had quit as Congress general secretary on September 15, 2014, which was not accepted by then party president Sonia Gandhi. On March 30, 2018, he was replaced as AICC general secretary (Organisation) by Ashok Gehlot.

Making public a letter he had written in 2014 to then Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Dwivedi said he had then suggested that the active posts of general secretaries and secretaries should be handed over to the younger generation as they required extensive travel and work. Veterans should be given other important positions, he said.

Asked about a young leader taking over as party chief, Dwivedi said, "The idea of suggesting a young leader can be made applicable in case of Congress president too, but you cannot be rigid on this. The issue of acceptability has to be seen. You can have young leadership on other positions."

He said this issue has cropped up many times in the party, even during Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi's time.

"You will not succeed if you are not accepted by party workers. How will the country accept your leadership, if your own party does not accept it. How will your message go through," Dwivedi posed.

He, however, did not agreed that Rahul Gandhi has left the party rudderless as was done by Sitaram Kesri."Sitaram Kesri's was a different situation," he said.

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