Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Thursday said the party needs to target the ruling BJP with "surgical strikes" rather than targeting its own Jitin Prasada, after a resolution was passed by a district unit in Uttar Pradesh for disciplinary action against the young leader from the state for being part of the ''group of 23'' who had sought urgent organisational reforms.
An audio clip also went viral on social media platforms with claims of it purportedly containing the voice of the District Congress Committee head of Lakhimpur Kheri suggesting that the resolution was passed following directives of AICC (All India Congress Committee) Secretary Dheeraj Gurjar.
However, Mr Gurjar rejected the charge, saying he got to know about the resolution only after it was passed.
The party's Lakhimpur Kheri unit passed the resolution seeking disciplinary action against Mr Prasada, accusing him of "gross indiscipline".
Mr Prasada, a former union minister, was among the 23 signatories to a letter written to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi, seeking an active and full-time party leadership among other organisational changes.
He is also a special invitee to the Congress Working Committee, where the 23 letter writers were dissed on Monday on various issues concerning their communication including its timing.
Mr Sibal, also part of the ''group of 23'' letter writers, reacted sharply to the resolution against Mr Prasada.
"Unfortunate that Jitin Prasada is being officially targeted in UP. Congress needs to target the BJP with surgical strikes instead of wasting its energy by targeting its own," Mr Sibal said on Twitter.
Unfortunate that Jitin Prasada is being officially targeted in UP- Kapil Sibal (@KapilSibal) August 27, 2020
Congress needs to target the BJP with surgical strikes instead wasting its energy by targeting its own
Another Congress leader Manish Tewari who was also a signatory to the letter, tweeted a single word "Prescient".
Mr Prasada himself did not comment on the development, but he retweeted posts of both Mr Sibal and Mr Tewari.
Later in the evening, senior party leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted, "I've been silent for 4 days on recent events in @INCIndia because once the Congress President says the issue is behind us, it is the duty of all of us to work together constructively in the interests of the Party. I urge all my colleagues to uphold this principle & end the debate."
Several party functionaries in the state and in the national capital refused to comment on the resolution, which was passed at an emergency meeting called by the Lakhimpur Kheri unit on Wednesday, two days after the Congress Working Committee meeting where the letter had kicked up a storm.
Mr Prasada has in the past been elected to the Lok Sabha from Dhaurahra, which falls in Lakhimpur Kheri district.
Noting that Mr Prasada was the "only one signatory from Uttar Pradesh" of the letter, the resolution said, "His family history has been against the Gandhi family and his father Jitendra Prasada had also contested an election against Sonia Gandhi. Yet, Sonia Gandhi gave him the ticket and made him an MP and a minister."
The resolution accused Mr Prasada of "gross indiscipline" and demanded strict disciplinary action against him.
"Sonia Gandhi is the only acceptable leader in the party. We have full faith in Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi. If there is any change in leadership, Rahul Gandhi should be made the national president," it said.
Calling the letter from the ''group of 23'' against the party's leadership, the district unit said it indicated that the signatories had no faith in Sonia Gandhi and the Congress. It accused them of acting like the BJP.
The Lakhimpur Kheri unit also sent a letter to party president Sonia Gandhi, informing her about the resolution.
At its meeting on Monday, the CWC urged Sonia Gandhi to continue as party president and bring about organisational changes.
A day before the CWC meeting in the national capital, state Congress president Ajay Kumar Lallu and some other senior UP Congress leaders had issued a statement saying that the letter's signatories did not represent the views of party workers and office bearers.