NEW DELHI: The Congress Working Committee (CWC) will meet “very soon”, the party said on Thursday, a day after some senior leaders demanded such a meeting in the face of multiple desertions and turmoil in the organisation.
Chief spokesperson of the Congress Randeep Surjewala said the party president had indicated last week that a meeting of the CWC, the top decision-making body of the party, would be called very soon.
“Before leaving for Shimla, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had already indicated that a CWC meeting shall be called very soon. Accordingly, the CWC meeting shall be held in the coming days,” Surjewala told PTI.
On Wednesday, senior party leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Kapil Sibal, who are part of a group of 23 leaders (G-23) seeking organisational revamp, demanded that a meeting of the CWC be convened immediately to discuss internal party issues such as a spate of defections from the party and turmoil in many state units including Punjab.
Sibal had also raised questions on the decision-making process in the party in the absence of a regular president, and demanded dialogue where all senior leaders would be heard.
“In our party at the moment there is no president. So we don’t know who is taking these decisions. We know and yet we don’t know. I believe one of my senior colleagues has written to the Congress president to immediately convene a CWC. So that at least some things that we can’t speak publicly, we can have a dialogue in the CWC as to why we are in this state,” he said.
Azad has written to the Congress president demanding that a meeting of the CWC be immediately convened.
Azad said that the party should welcome suggestions and not suppress them.
While Azad and some other G-23 leaders are part of the CWC, Sibal is not.
Hitting back at Sibal, Surjewala had said, “Every Congressman and woman must also seriously introspect whether by their words and actions they are attempting to weaken the Congress in the times of crisis.
” Sibal had said, “We are not ‘Jee Huzur 23’.
We will continue to put forth our views and will continue to repeat our demands.
” In an apparent attack on the party leadership, he said there is no monopoly in the power structure of any country or political party.
Several Congress leaders of the ‘Group of 23’, which had last year written to party chief Sonia Gandhi demanding an organisational overhaul, on Thursday strongly condemned the attack on their colleague Kapil Sibal’s house and termed it as “orchestrated hooliganism”.
Congress workers protested outside Sibal’s house and reportedly damaged a car, after he raised questions over the party’s functioning and attacked its leadership.
Senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, P Chidambaram, Anand Sharma, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Vivek Tankha and Raj Babbar were among those who rallied behind Sibal, with Sharma asking Gandhi to take strong action against those involved.
Former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh also criticised what he said was an “attack” at the house of Sibal by Congress workers only because he “chose to express views that were not palatable to the party leadership”.
This does not augur well for the party, Singh said, adding that it was unfortunate that the seniors are being “completely sidelined”, which is not good for the party.
Terming the senior Congressmen as “thinkers”, who were important to the future of the party, the former chief minister in a statement said the younger leadership should be promoted to implement the plans, which the senior leaders are best equipped to formulate.
Azad, former leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, also strongly condemned the “orchestrated hooliganism” at Sibal’s residence.
“He (Sibal) is a loyal Congressman fighting for the party both inside and outside Parliament. Any suggestion from any quarter should be welcomed instead of suppressing, hooliganism is unacceptable,” tweeted Azad, who along with Sibal is part of the ‘Group of 23’ which last year had written to Gandhi seeking organisational overhaul of the party.
Chidambaram tweeted that he feels helpless when “we cannot start meaningful conversations within party forums”.
“I also feel hurt and helpless when I see pictures of Congress workers raising slogans outside the residence of a colleague and MP. The safe harbour to which one can withdraw seems to be silence,” he said.
Former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said, “Orchestrated hooliganism outside Kapil Sibal’s residence last night is not the culture of the Congress.”
“If one has any difference of views, the same should be brought up and discussed at party forum,” he said on Twitter.
Asserting that difference in opinion and perception are integral to a democracy, Sharma, also a part of the G-23, said intolerance and violence is alien to Congress values and culture.
“Shocked and disgusted to hear the news of attack and hooliganism at Kapil Sibal’s house. This deplorable action brings disrepute to the party and needs to be strongly condemned,” Sharma said in a series of tweets.
He asserted that the Congress has a history of upholding freedom of expression.
Those responsible must be identified and disciplined, Sharma said.
“Urging Congress president Sonia Gandhi to take cognisance and strong action,” he said in a tweet.
Taking to Twitter, Congress MP from Punjab, Manish Tewari, unequivocally condemned what he said was “orchestrated hooliganism” at Sibal’s residence last night.
“Those who masterminded the assault must bear in mind that he fights for @INCIndia both inside and outside courts of law. You may find his views uncomfortable but that cannot be a license for violence,” Tewari, who is a part of the 23 leaders who wrote to Gandhi last year, said.
In another tweet, he said, “Those who are trying to defend the ‘command performance’ last night. This is what happened @KapilSibal’s house ‘They damaged the car. Stood on top, so it caved in. Threw tomatoes both outside and inside the house’. If this is not hooliganism then what else is it”.
Responding to Tewari’s tweet, Shashi Tharoor, who was part of the leaders who wrote to Gandhi, tweeted, “That is shameful. We all know @KapilSibal as a true Congressman who has fought multiple cases in court for @INCIndia.”
“As a democratic party we need to listen to what he has to say, disagree if you must but not in this way. Our priority is to strengthen ourselves to take on the BJP!” he said.
Also responding to Tewari’s tweet, Congress leader Vivek Tankha tweeted, “Never to a person who has fought and saved so many Congress governments and persons and unmake opposition government.”
“People may disagree with him. Even protest. But not damage his car. At least in my life I never encouraged or promoted hooliganism,” Tankha said.
Another Congress leader Raj Babbar said, “Don’t unleash mob-power on ideological co-travellers — you will look more pitiful in front of ideological rivals.”
“Is criticising what happened outside Kapil Sibal’s residence not a part of Congress culture,” he asked in a tweet in Hindi.
Soon after he raised questions over the functioning of the Congress, Sibal on Wednesday came under attack from several quarters with party workers also protesting outside his house here.
In the wake of several Congress leaders quitting the party and its Punjab unit in turmoil, Sibal has demanded that an immediate meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) be convened and wondered who in the party was taking decisions in the absence of a full-time president.
Sibal said at a press conference that the G-23 grouping is “not a Jee Huzur 23” and will continue to put forth the views and will continue to repeat the demands.
Carrying ‘Get Well Soon Kapil Sibal’ placards and raising slogans against Sibal, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) workers had protested outside his Jor Bagh residence, saying they were “hurt” by his remarks.
The protesters raised slogans against Sibal, asking him to “leave the party”.
A protestor also stood on his car.