A meeting of the Congress' Special Committee will be held today amid the voices of discontent emerging within the party post a dismal performance in the Bihar assembly election and other bypolls. According to news agency ANI, the meeting will take place at 5 pm through video conferencing but the agenda is not clear.
Former minister Kapil Sibal had publicly criticised the Congress leadership saying that the time of introspection was over and people no longer saw the party as an effective alternative. Veteran leader Ashok Gehlot quickly rebutted the remark and said that the Congress has always sprung back from crisis. Putting up a strong defence of the Congress and Sonia Gandhi, Sibal said the Congress is still the only party that can keep the nation united. He said there was no need for Mr Kapil Sibal to mention our internal ssue in media and that "this has hurt the sentiments of the party workers across the country".
"Congress has seen various crises including in 1969, 1977, 1989 and later in the 1996 but every time we came out stronger due to our ideology, programs, policies and firm beliefs in party leadership. We have improved with each and every crisis and also formed UPA government in 2004 under the able leadership of Soniaji, we shall overcome this too," Gehlot said.
The Congress won 19 out of the 70 seats it contested in Bihar as part of the RJD-led grand alliance. The opposition alliance ended up with 110 seats while the NDA retained power bagging 125 seats in the 243-member assembly.
Sibal was part of a group of 23 senior Congress leaders who had in August written to party chief Sonia Gandhi making suggestions on ways to revive the organisation.
Sibal was backed by Congress Rajya Sabha member Vivek Tankha who said "it is time to act now else it will be too late." He also said that for democracy to survive, the Congress has to survive. Tankha was also a part of the 23 leaders who had sought overhaul in the party.
Karti Chidambaram also pitched for introspection and asked for an internal discussion on the losses in recent elections. Karti, son of former union minister P Chidambaram, in a tweet said: "It's time we introspect, ideate, consult & act @INCIndia." The Lok Sabha MP from Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu made the cryptic comment while tagging a tweet by Sibal. Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam demanded that party leaders who were responsible for taking decisions in Bihar polls should be held accountable for the dismal show, but defended Rahul Gandhi. Rahul Gandhi only went to campaign for the party but was not responsible for the decisions taken in Bihar, Nirupam added.