Amid the war of words within Congress over Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal's dissent, party veteran Natwar Singh on Tuesday called for new leaders to be encouraged. Speaking exclusively to Republic TV, he opined that Congress' fortunes can revive if fresh faces are allowed to flourish within the party. While conceding that he was not associated with the day-to-day functioning of Congress anymore, the former External Affairs Minister recalled that he would meet party president Sonia Gandhi on a daily basis until some years back.
According to him, it was essential that the members of the Congress Working Committee are not nominated. He advised Congress that at least half of the party's committees including the CWC should be elected. While refraining from directly commenting on whether Sonia Gandhi should continue as Congress president, he opined that perhaps a new team which is close to Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi should be given more prominence in the party. Despite the high-octane drama at the CWC meeting in August, it was decided that the Rae Bareli MP will continue as the interim president at least until the next AICC session is convened.
Senior Congress leader Natwar Singh remarked, "New people should come in. If new people come in and they are allowed to flourish, then I feel something can happen." He added, "I have no connection since the last few years. I would meet Sonia every day back then. One thing is essential- the members of the Congress Working Committee should not be nominated. There should be elections to the CWC. If you make 25 committees, 12 of them should be elected bodies. You can nominate 12 committees."
The former External Affairs Minister said, 'The new people will be chosen by these very people. For instance, there were elections in states after which new people emerged on the scene. So, they should think- there can be a new team close to Rahul."
Sibal, one of the 23 senior Congress leaders who had expressed dissatisfaction with the party's leadership, again raised probing questions after the debacle in the Bihar Assembly election and the bypolls. In an exclusive interview with The Indian Express on Monday, he contended that the people of the country "don't consider Congress to be an effective alternative". The former Union Minister alleged that there was a reluctance to address issues within the party as the Congress Working Committee is a "nominated body".
Weighing in on Congress' lack of introspection, Sibal said, "If for six years the Congress has not introspected what hope do we have for introspection now? We know what is wrong with the Congress. Organisationally, we know what is wrong. I think we have all the answers. The Congress party itself knows all the answers. But they are not willing to recognise those answers."
Indicating that Congress leadership is taking it "business as usual" despite the party managing to win only 19 out of the 70 seats in Bihar, the Rajya Sabha MP stressed, "The culture of nominations must go. Elections through nominations will not lead to the desired results. Some of us put our pen to paper and said what should be done in the Congress on the road ahead. Instead of listening to us, they turned their back on us. The results are for all to see."