The demand for the return of Rahul Gandhi as the Congress chief was taken up on social media by Congress leaders today with a video on his family background. Several leaders of the Congress also came up with their own wishlist about the approach the 49-year-old should take to endear himself to the people. Among them was senior Congress leader from Madhya Pradesh, Digvijaya Singh, a known Gandhi family loyalist who has more than once pitched Mr Gandhi for the post of the party chief before he took over in 2018.
Mr Gandhi, Mr Singh said, should be more "active" in parliament. He should also be "more accessible to people, Mr Singh, tacitly underscoring the criticism of Mr Gandhi's lack of mass connect. He also underscored veteran leader Sharad Pawar's advice to Mr Gandhi.
"I agree. He is different and wants to do politics differently. We should allow him to do so but then we also would like him to be more active in Parliament and more accessible to people. As advised by Sharad Pawar he should go around India. "Yatras" are important to connect," his tweet read.
I agree. He is different and wants to do politics differently. We should allow him to do so but then we also would like him to be more active in Parliament and more accessible to people. As advised by Sharad Pawar he should go around India. "Yatras" are important to connect. https://t.co/6fJQbD47ZB— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) August 2, 2020
Manickam Tagore, one of the younger leaders from Tamil Nadu and the Congress's whip in the Lok Sabha, responded with a jibe that echoed the clash at the party's internal meeting on Thursday.
Insisting that Mr Gandhi has already held around 100 foot-marches, Mr Tagore tweeted, "I think if who occupies high positions in party truly stand with him and not criticise behind his back we won't be in opposition for long".
"Those who leaks off the record conversion to few media friends put control on their habits we will win!" read another tweet. He, however, appears to have deleted the tweets later.
Mr Singh --- along with Kamal Nath -- is widely seen to be behind Jyotiraditya Scindia's exit from the party in March, leading to the collapse of the party's government in Madhya Pradesh. The exit of Mr Scindia and the current rebellion of Sachin Pilot in Rajasthan are seen to reflect the current quandary of young leaders in the Congress.
On Thursday, calling for Rahul Gandhi's return as the party chief, younger leaders reportedly argued that those who were part of the last UPA government should take the blame for the party's rapid decline.
After a decade of UPA rule, the Congress lost power in 2014 to the BJP in what counts among its worst performances. In last year's general election, it lost more ground, with Mr Gandhi being beaten by Smriti Irani in family turf Amethi and Mr Scindia losing bastion Guna.
The rift between the old and young leaders in the party cracked open during Thursday's meet after the veterans suggested that the party needs more introspection, given its failure to capitalise on huge issues like the coronavirus outbreak, the economic slowdown and the trouble with China. Leaders like Kapil Sibal had more than once criticised the party leadership.
With Rahul Gandhi leading the party attack against the BJP with tweets and videos on social media, the younger leaders had objected, accusing the veterans of placing the party in dire straits.
Insisting that an introspection was needed into the party's defeat of 2014, Rajiv Satav, the 45-year-old leaders Rajya Sabha MP, said, "We need to analyse the role of how the Congress performed in the UPA period, why didn't ministers meet workers and why did they lose touch with reality. Why has the party failed in Maharashtra and Delhi".
Yesterday, Mr Satav tweeted to say he did not target Manmohan Singh, the UPA's two-term Prime Minister. It was a "misrepresentation of facts" to say his observations "cast a shadow over Dr Singh's leadership", he said.
"Absolutely agree with @SatavRajeev . There is merit in keeping party discussions within the party. This is the time to combine our efforts to fight and defeat Modi/Shah and RSS.@INCIndia party workers are standing with Mrs Gandhi,Dr Singh &Voice of Opposition Mr Gandhi !" Mr Tagore tweeted in response.