Senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily on Sunday said that the Congress needs to undergo a 'major surgery' after its crushing defeat in the recent Lok Sabha elections.
Moily said that Congress Party President Rahul Gandhi must hold elections at every level and quell internal bickering with an 'iron hand'. He emphasized that Gandhi alone can lead the party. Moily said that All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charges and state chiefs are the ones responsible and not the Congress President. He said that Gandhi continues to be the AICC President and has not stepped down from his position.
"He (Gandhi) said that owning moral responsibility he will step down. (The Congress) Working Committee (CWC) has been unanimous to say that he has to continue. That holds good even today," he said
Moily stated that Gandhi took over the Congress leadership in 2017 and quit after being the its centre for only about one and a half years. Moily asserted that Gandhi must be given a substantial time to prove himself. Pointing out to the upcoming elections in Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Haryana, Moily was confident that Rahul Gandhi should immediately step up.
"This is not the time to deliberate on who should be the next president. He has to put proper people in-charge of states in the AICC, start the process right now, without any loss of time. Proper candidates for elections will have to be selected... One has to take the reins in his hands and that should be done only by Rahul Gandhi now," the former Union minister said.
Appealing to Gandhi to remain in the saddle and bring about dynamic changes, Moily said the idea is that "we have to have a major surgery over the party".
"Elections at every level (must be carried out) so that we can demonstrate to the world and the country that we have fresh blood. Getting in fresh blood is important, that has been clogged somewhere in the party organisation. This is what Rahul Gandhi has to do and he alone can do it," Moily said.
The former Karnataka Chief Minister who was defeated in Chikballapur said:
"Gandhi should quell the bickering in the party with an "iron hand without any mercy." he said adding that it will present him as a dynamic leader.
"He has to inject that kind of discipline in the party. The party has to be overhauled everywhere which includes at the AICC-level. We need to relook at all these things. Systems will have to be put in place," the 79-year-old leader said.
Moily also claimed that state leadership will make use of the current situation to rise:
"They (state leadership) think this is an opportunity to rise, that (infighting) has to be quelled. Rahul Gandhi should take steps and quell such bickering all over the country," he said.
His remarks come amid rumblings within party's units in states such as Rajasthan, Punjab and Telangana growing louder over its massive defeat. On Gandhi's offer to resign at the CWC meeting on May 25, Moily said his gesture of owning the responsibility and making himself accountable as a leader for the defeat should be appreciated, but that doesn't mean that he can be dispensed with.
"Just because he owned moral responsibility, it does not mean that his leadership is not relevant. His leadership is still relevant. This is an opportunity for him. The BJP lost (in 2004) and was out of power for 10 years, but that did not mean that they wound up. They survived and came back in 2014. Ten years time is no time," he said.
According to Moily, the people who are in-charge of the states where the party was defeated emphatically should own the moral responsibility.
"They have to be made accountable and even state unit chiefs will have to be made accountable. There should be elections everywhere in state units. Let the election process start," he said.
He also advised that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra should take her time and expand her party as she recently stepped into the political scenario. He also laid claims citing that Priyanka Gandhi herself set her agenda for the 2022 assembly polls. Moily is also confident that if Congress emerges victorious in Uttar Pradesh, the party will come back at a national leader. Moily also said Rahul Gandhi has given an excellent leadership and made the Congress relevant.
"He Gandhi also made other opposition parties consolidate around him. Even (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi became very desperate because of his leadership, because of the Congress party. Modi also thought he was losing and therefore he made all sorts of desperate attempts. You could see it in his body language, in his speeches," Moily claimed.
Gandhi demonstrated to the world and the country that he is more than a match to Modi, Moily said. "Congress should have taken advantage of that in which we failed," he said. Moily also expressed confidence that the Congress can play the role of a dynamic opposition despite low numbers in the Lok Sabha.
"Numbers are not important. The passion with which we take up the cause of the party is important," he said.
On Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav's remarks that the "Congress must die", the veteran Congressman slammed his statements and said:
"Who is he to suggest others. The Congress has 135 years of history. Britishers wanted to write its obituary, but they wrote their own obituary and went back."
He cited various instances when the Congress has bounced back from massive defeats to assert that a comeback by the grand old party is in the offing.