Chandigarh, (Asian independent) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday opposed the bid by some Congress leaders to challenge the Gandhi family’s leadership of the party, saying this was not the time to raise such an issue, given the need for a strong opposition against the BJP-led NDA that “was out to destroy the country’s constitutional ethos and democratic principles”.
In a statement issued here, the veteran Congress leader said the NDA’s success was attributable to the absence of a strong and united Opposition, and the move by these Congress leaders to demand a rehaul of the party at this critical juncture “would be detrimental to its interests, and the interests of the nation”.
India is currently facing not just external dangers from across the border but also internal threats to its federal structure, he said, adding that a unified Congress alone could protect the country and its people.
Terming the demand for leadership change as untenable, Amarinder Singh cited the contribution of the Gandhi family to the country’s progress since it achieved freedom from the British rule.
“What Congress needs is a leadership that is acceptable not just to a few but to the entire party, through its rank and file, and the nation at large,” he said, adding that the Gandhis were the right fit for this role.
Sonia Gandhi should continue to helm the Congress as long as she wanted, he said, and added that Rahul Gandhi should thereafter take over as he was fully competent to lead the party.
The Chief Minister said that there was not a single village in India which did not have a Congress member to carry forward its ideology of upholding the constitutional principles, rights and freedoms.
The credit for that, he said, went to the Gandhis, “without whose selfless commitment, dedication and unimaginable sacrifices”, the party would not have stood in the path of the BJP and its “ambitions to divide the country on the lines of caste and religion”.
“At a time when the very bedrock of India’s constitutional strength was under threat, it was important for every Congress man and woman to stand firmly and unitedly behind the Gandhis, who had held the party together all these decades and could continue to do so,” said Amarinder Singh.
There was currently no leader in the Congress who could give the party that kind of strong leadership, he said, urging all to put the interests of the party and the nation above their own.
The Gandhis were the only universally recognisable face of the Congress, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, the Chief Minister stressed, pointing out that of the five generations that had served the country since pre-Independence times, and two (India Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi) had sacrificed their lives for the nation.
Electoral defeats could not be the yardstick for leadership change, said the Chief Minister, adding that just because the Congress was down at the moment did not mean the Gandhis’ contribution to its growth could or should be undermined.
The BJP rose from two parliamentary seats to lead the country, he pointed out, adding that the Congress will rise again, and that too under the leadership of a Gandhi.
Amarinder Singh warned that any move to divide or destabilise the party would give advantage to the “dictatorial forces that are seeking to trample the ideals on which the founding fathers had built the modern India, that is respected by the world today”.
The destruction of those ideals would trigger the devastation not just of the Congress but India as a whole, he added.