Congress leader Kapil Sibal (File Photo/HT)
‘India needs resurgent Congress but…’: Kapil Sibal on crisis in party
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal remarked on Sunday that the country needs a “resurgent” Congress, though he also called for the party to undergo reforms at various levels.
“India needs a resurgent Congress but it also needs to show it is active and in a mood to engage meaningfully,” Sibal told news agency PTI, adding that the party needs organisational polls, widespread reforms at central and state levels to show it is no longer “in a state of inertia.”
The former Union minister further claimed that currently, there is a void of a political alternative in the country. “The country needs a strong and credible opposition,” Sibal, a member of the Congress’ dissenting “G-23” group of leaders, said. He also stressed upon the “urgent” need to strike a balance between young and experienced leaders of the party.
Sibal’s comments come at a time when the Congress is facing troubles on multiple fronts. The party has been without a full-time president for nearly two years now. Rahul Gandhi, the last full-time Congress president, resigned after Congress’ defeat in the 2019 general elections. It was the party’s second successive defeat in a general election against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Gandhi succeeded his mother Sonia Gandhi as Congress president in 2017 but the latter was forced to return as the party president, albeit in an interim capacity – a post she still holds – in the wake of Gandhi’s resignation.
The party has also seen defections by several young leaders to the BJP. On June 9, two-term Lok Sabha MP and former Union minister Jitin Prasada joined the BJP, more than a year after Jyotiraditya Scindia switched sides, triggering a collapse of the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh. In other states too, where the Congress is in power, there are rumblings which could bring trouble for the party. Former Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot, who nearly walked out last year, is currently in Delhi, and is likely to meet Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Sunday. In Punjab, there is infighting between chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh and former minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Punjab is likely to go to polls early next year. In 2017, the Congress, under Singh, won a comfortable majority, displacing the BJP-Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) government in the process. However, in the recently held assembly elections in four states and a Union territory, the Congress was on the winning side only in Tamil Nadu, as a member of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-led alliance.