Sonia Gandhi asked Congress leaders to pick a non-Gandhi president a year ago: Ahmed Patel

Congress leader Ahmed Patel, who tore the dissidents into shreds during the party’s working committee meet on Monday, spoke to India Today TV today about the letter row.
Ahmed Patel

In the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on Monday, one of the leaders who tore the dissidents into shreds was the former political advisor of Sonia Gandhi Ahmed Patel. He spoke to India Today TV over the recent row and whether all will be well in the party or will the controversy over a non-Gandhi leader leave a lasting mark?

Incidentally, the letter – written by 23 dissident Congress leaders – had been doing rounds for two months. When Ahmed Patel learnt of it, he spoke to two leaders who were spearheading the campaign and told them to speak with Sonia Gandhi personally, instead of sending the letter. The two leaders – Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Anand Sharma – assured him that they will not pursue the letter campaign. However, a few days later, they sent the letter to the Congress president.

When asked whether it will damage the party’s image? Ahmed Patel said, “This is a matter between the leaders and their president. We are a democratic party and have inner democracy. Leaders can have disagreement but it should be conveyed at party forum not elsewhere.”

In a telephonic interview with India Today TV, he revealed that “the Congress Working Committee has paved way for elections which were supposed to be held much earlier, but could not due to the Covid crisis”.

Ahmed Patel revealed it was Sonia Gandhi who in 2019 said that a non-Gandhi should become the president of the party. “Last year in August 2019, Congress president Sonia Gandhi told the CWC members to form a consensus over the name of a non-Gandhi leader… It wasn’t only Rahul Gandhi, but also Sonia Gandhi, who said that they believe in internal democracy in the party. She would have preferred having a non-Gandhi [as president] but was forced to take charge as interim chief.”

“The party is ready for any dialogue. I had told the leaders to express their views to Sonia Gandhi by meeting her in person,” said the leader who once enjoyed tremendous political clout within the party and across the nation.

In the CWC meet, Ahmed Patel apparently pulled up Anand Sharma.

“Anand Sharma ji you are a master of the draft. How could you draft such a letter that is contradictory? On one hand, the letter says that Gandhis are an integral part of the Congress and you have faith in their leadership and later you talk about collective leadership… How is it possible? This is a letter of no confidence, it’s a farewell letter!” a source quoted Ahmed Patel as saying.

At least 23 senior Congress leaders had recently written a letter to party’s interim chief Sonia Gandhi urging a structural reogranisation of the party. The letter created an uproar on Monday as the Congress Working Committee held a virtual meet. At the end of the meeting, the CWC decided that while Sonia Gandhi will continue as the interim chief, an election will be held within six months to chose a new party president. Sonia Gandhi has also been given the power to restructure the party.

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