Cong Veteran Sees 'Syndicate' of Party Leaders at Work Against Rahul

New Delhi
Cong Veteran Sees 'Syndicate' of Party Leaders at Work Against Rahul

A senior Congress leader today said he saw the hand of a "syndicate" involving some party members behind former Union minister Jayanthi Natarajan's attack on Rahul Gandhi and called for identifying those who are making "concerted efforts to defame and weaken" the Congress Vice President.

Drawing a parallel between the coming together of some Congress veterans against Indira Gandhi and forming Congress (O) in 1969 and the recent attack on Rahul, former Union Minister and Special Invitee to Congress Working Committee, Anil Shastri, told PTI that he feels "definitely there is a group of some leaders who are doing this".

He alleged that the strategy was to weaken Rahul and in the process hurt the party.

"There is definitely a concerned effort on part of some party leaders to weaken Rahul Gandhi and create a situation in which he does not take over as party president at a time when there is talk that he may take the post after organisational elections. They want to somehow thwart that," Shastri said.

Son of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, the Congress leader, who heads the Hindi department of AICC and was earlier editor of the party's official mouthpiece 'Congress Sandesh', said he does feel that there is some kind of a "syndicate-like situation now".

"Even in the Syndicate, it was a group of senior leaders who had targeted Indira Gandhi," he said while opining that the Congress leadership should not to sit quietly and take corrective measures. "The leadership should identify them like Indira Gandhi had done," he said.

He said his doubts also stemmed from how some leaders have chosen to target the Congress Vice President and have deserted the party one after another following the party's poor showing in the last Lok Sabha elections.

A number of leaders, who resigned close to the Lok Sabha polls and thereafter, had raised questions over the style of functioning of the Congress leadership. Some of them joined the BJP and are now ministers.

Natarajan, the Union Environment Minister from July, 2011, to December, 2013, resigned from Congress last week alleging that she had followed Rahul Gandhi's directions in giving the green nod to certain big ticket projects but was "vilified, humiliated and sidelined" by the leadership.

Former Congress Working Committee member and ex-MP Jagmeet Singh Brar, who was suspended from the party last year and had then resigned from its primary membership, was quick to back Natarajan, saying, "Purgation at the top is the only remedy for the rejuvenation of the Congress in the existing scenario."

Brar had also said that his "honourable" colleague from the south, Natarajan, was removed from her ministerial berth in a similar ignominious manner for defying "sycophancy" as he himself had been from the Party's Central Working Committee.

He had invited the wrath of the Congress brass after suggesting that AICC President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi should "take rest" for two years and hand over the reins of the party to other leaders.

Shastri had posted tweets on the issue the day Natarajan had resigned on Saturday.

In tweets posted on the day Natarajan resigned from the party, Shastri had said, "After having been Minister in UPA govt Jayanti Natrajan is casting aspersion on Rahul Gandhi which is very mean. Why was she quiet till now?

"There seems to be a concerted effort on the part of some Congress leaders to defame and weaken Rahul Gandhi. Leadership must identify them. The way some leaders particulrly (sic) the turncoats are defaming (Rahul Gandhi) & weakening the Congress, it seems another Syndicate is in the offing."

In the tweets, Shastri had also said that Congress should be careful in choosing people for the important posts in the government and the party organisation.

"It was Krishna Tirath a few days ago and now it is Jayanthi Natarajan. Why all this during Delhi Assembly Elections?" he had tweeted.

The AICC had last year seen a virtual clash between some of the old guard, the general secretaries and young AICC secretaries picked by Rahul Gandhi over seniors' speaking "out of turn".

Former Union Minister KC Deo had in May last year blamed "rootless wonders and spineless creepers" for the Congress debacle in the Lok Sabha polls. Alleging that there was a "stranglehold" of some people on the party and its leadership, Deo had made a strong pitch for Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi to work to "free the Congress from these chains and shackles".

The Indian National Congress (0) was formed in 1969 after Indira Gandhi was expelled from Congress and started her own party, Congress (R), some time after the 1967 general elections.

Though the party, under the leadership of Indira Gandhi, had won a fourth consecutive term in power, its margin of victory was significantly lower than what they had achieved in the previous three elections under Jawaharlal Nehru.

Congress (O) was referred to as the 'Syndicate' by its opponents. It had gradually faded into insignificance as the Indira Gandhi-led Congress (R) grew in prominence. Congress (O) finally merged with other parties to form the Janta Party in 1977 with its leader Morarji Desai becoming prime minister for two years.

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