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Congress pot simmers again over talk of 'G 23' meet with Sonia

www.indiatoday.in
7 min read
fairly difficult
Speculation is rife over 'G 23' Congress dissenters getting an audience with party's interim chief Sonia Gandhi. News of an Ashok Gehlot visit to the national Capital on Friday has deepened the swirl in the party that something related to the Congress organisation and the Rajasthan impasse is coming up.
The meet, if and when it materialises, would have far-reaching consequences on the fate of the Grand Old Party. After two subsequent general election washouts and a pervading malaise, matters came to a head in August when 23 senior leaders of the Congress sent a letter to Sonia calling for sweeping changes in the party, sparking an existential crisis.

For Sonia, who holds a distinction of being the longest-serving All India Congress Committee (AICC) chief in the 136-year history of the Congress, the meeting may see history repeat itself like in 1996 and then 1998 when two serving Congress presidents, first PV Narasimha Rao and then Sitaram Kesri, were unceremoniously shown the door.

Flashback

In both 1996 and 1998, Sonia remained aloof but that had been a façade. A galaxy of senior party leaders, ranging from Arjun Singh, Sitaram Kesri, Vijaya Bhaskar Reddy, K Karunakaran and AK Antony to Ahmed Patel and Ghulam Nabi Azad, had played together to throw Rao out.

Barely two years later, Rao could only watch bemused when Pranab Mukherjee, Jitendra Prasada, RK Dhawan, Arjun Singh, Azad, Sharad Pawar, Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy, Antony, Manmohan Singh, Meira Kumar, Oscar Fernandes, Madhavsinh Solanki, JB Patnaik and Lalthanhawla sent an ultimatum to Kesri.

Almost 22 years later, Sonia and her son Rahul Gandhi are staring at a mutiny which lacks colour, punch and numbers but is striking in terms of the party's growing sense of impatience and disillusionment with the leadership's inability to win elections.

Mukherjee, Prasada, Dhawan, Arjun, Reddy, Patnaik, and Patel are dead but the new lineup - Azad, Kapil Sibal, Anand Sharma, Shashi Tharoor, Mukul Wasnik, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Veerappa Moily, Prithviraj Chavan, Manish Tiwari, Vivek Tankha, Milind Deora - is equally formidable. It includes five former chief ministers, floor leaders in the Rajya Sabha, members of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), AICC functionaries and Congress Legislature…
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