"Right Fit For Leadership Role": Amarinder Singh Defends Gandhis Amid Crisis

CM Amarinder Singh: The statement of support comes a day before the Congress Working Committee is to meet and discuss a letter calling for a thorough overhaul of party leadership

'Right Fit For Leadership Role': Amarinder Singh Defends Gandhis Amid Crisis

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh spoke out in defence of the Gandhi family today


Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh launched a passionate defence of the Gandhis on Sunday, declaring that electoral defeats could not be the "yardstick for leadership change".

Mr Singh also said it would be a mistake to undermine the family whose "selfless commitment and unimaginable sacrifices" had allowed the Congress to stand "like a rock in the path of the BJP and its ambition to divide the country on the lines of caste and religion".

The Chief Minister's strongly-worded statement of support comes a day before the Congress Working Committee - the party's highest decision-making body - is to meet and discuss a letter, from over 20 top leaders, calling for a thorough overhaul of leadership and introspection into poor electoral performances.

In response to that letter Sonia Gandhi, the interim President, told her aides she would step down as the  party chief. Amarinder Singh, however, made it clear that he would oppose any challenge to the Gandhis' leadership of the Congress.

"The move by these leaders to demand a re-haul of the party at this critical juncture would be detrimental to its interests and interests of the nation," the Punjab Chief Minister said.

Pointing out India needs a "strong and united opposition", at a time when "bedrock of Constitutional strength (is) under threat", Mr Singh said: "What the Congress needs is a leadership acceptable to the entire party, through its rank and file, and the nation at large".

The Punjab Chief Minister insisted the Gandhis were the right fit for this role.

"Sonia Gandhi should continue to helm the Congress as long as she wants," he said, adding Rahul Gandhi should take over once he becomes "fully competent" to lead the party.


Congress leaders have written a letter challenging the Gandhis' leadership of the party

"There is currently no leader in the Congress who can give the party that kind of strong leadership," Mr Singh said, calling on his colleagues to put the interests of the party and the nation above their own.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah have also defended the Gandhis.

"Soniaji and Rahulji are the ray of hope for us in every challenge. We are all with you. Crores of workers and countrymen of Chhattisgarh and country are with you," Mr Baghel tweeted.

Mr Siddaramaiah said it was "unfortunate" that the leadership of the Gandhi family was being questioned.

"In these difficult times of undeclared emergency & attack on democracy by BJP, we should collectively strive to strengthen the Congress and not weaken it," he said.

However, the 20 leaders who signed the letter have insisted it is not a criticism of the Gandhis.

"We have not criticised Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi, but we want a complete overhaul of the Congress party in its management and style," a senior leader said.

The letter called for "honest introspection", suggested "collective leadership" as the way forward and stressed that the "youth are losing confidence" in the party.

Dated August 7, it was written just before the Congress brokered a truce between Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot, mainly through the efforts of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and save its government in Rajasthan.

Events in Rajasthan followed a similar pattern to the crisis in Madhya Pradesh earlier this year, where Jyotiraditya Scindia, who alleged he had been sidelined and overlooked, crossed over to the BJP and helped bring down the Kamal Nath government.

At that time too there were rumblings within the Congress that the central leadership - the Gandhis - had failed to act quickly and decisively to save its government.

The Congress was also destroyed in the last two general polls, winning 44 seats in 2014 and 52 in 2019. The BJP, meanwhile, recorded massive wins, claiming 282 and 303 seats respectively.

Rahul Gandhi resigned as Congress President in the aftermath of the 2019 defeat, prompting a leadership vacuum that was eventually filled by his mother, Sonia Gandhi, 73.

Mrs Gandhi's appointment was meant to be temporary but, a year later, allegations of poor leadership continue to dog the Congress. There are calls for Mr Gandhi to return and, simultaneously, rumblings that he is inexperienced and, electorally, a non-performing asset.

Over the past few weeks, there have also been calls from various senior leaders of the party including Kapil Sibal and Shashi Tharoor, for reforms.