Mumbai: Months after the letter of dissent by the ‘group of 23’ Congress leaders and statements by Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal and others over the ongoing leadership muddle, veteran Congress leader and former Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has decided to speak up. “It saddens me to say that the Congress tradition of holding debates and dialogue has ended. Introspection is called for. Our policies may be wrong and to set them right, such sessions are needed,” he noted.
The party is in dire need of repair, he said, without mincing words.
Shinde’s venting out assumes significance since he was not the part of G-23 leaders who had, in their letter, sought ‘sweeping changes’ in the party. Jitin Prasada, who recently crossed over to the BJP, was among the 23 senior Congress leaders who had written to party chief Sonia Gandhi last August, calling for sweeping changes in the organisation, collective decision-making and ‘visible’ leadership. Others who were part of the G-23 were Kapil Sibal, Shashi Tharoor, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma.
Shinde’s statement on Thursday comes a day after the closed-door meeting between Navjot Singh Sidhu and Priyanka Gandhi amid an internal rift in the Punjab Congress. Shinde took a dig at the high command over the exit of former minister Jitin Prasada.
He has spoken up at a time when Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole and Mumbai Congress chief Bhai Jagtap have made a strong case for the party going solo in upcoming elections in the state. However, Maharashtra party in-charge H K Patil had snubbed Patole saying that there were no elections in the near future and the party high command would take a decision at an appropriate time.
Interestingly, Shinde had praised Patole for his efforts to rejuvenate the party organisation in Maharashtra.
Meanwhile, the Congress party’s ally in the state, the Shiv Sena said that the Congress should introspect on the reasons for Shinde’s outburst. ”If Sushil Kumar Shinde has said something, the party should discuss the issue, as he is one of the seniormost Congress leaders and he has done so much for the party,” Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said.