Senior Congress leader and former Union minister Veerappa Moily spoke to Outlook about poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s role in the party, leadership crisis and more..
Q) On leadership crisis in Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
Congress is a dynamic party and it's natural that diverge views and ideas emerge within the ranks. Therefore, reconciliation processes are happening from time to time. The leaders who have been given positions of power will have to maintain balance among party cadres. Every party suffers from internal strife. It doesn't affect the larger prospects of the party. In Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, all the stakeholders were given a chance to air their opinions. The leadership is trying to resolve the issues in these states.
Q) On upcoming Punjab Elections and leadership tussle.
The dissent in party ranks in Punjab has been almost resolved now. The leadership has been continuously in talks with MLAs, ministers and everyone. We follow a democratic process and as a part of it, Navjot Singh Sidhu was made the party president. Now, he has to work in a harmonious manner with the government and chief minister Amrinder Singh.
Q) On Opposition unity and Congress’ role.
Congress has a pivotal role to play in coordinating all Opposition Parties. We are playing our part in that. Mrs Gandhi has taken initiatives by holding a joint meeting of all the parties. Leaders such as Mamata Banerjee and Sharat Pawar have attended the meeting. Most of the opposition parties except the SP and BS, came for the meeting.
Q) on G 23 and their separate meetings.
G 23 doesn’t exist anymore. I was also a member of it. We formed G-23 to bring reforms in the party. Now we are not interested because it is not meant as a weapon against the leadership. Congress leadership has now taken initiatives to revive the party.
Q) Prashant Kishor’s role.
Prashant Kishor is working actively in collaboration with the party and he is doing an excellent job. He is involved in the revival of the Congress, in the upcoming Assembly elections and 2024 General elections. He is also intending to join Congress to ensure that reforms happen within the ranks. His involvement with Congress is a good development since he has a proven record of electoral success. There is no point in criticizing him. Any leader using the instrument of G 23 to criticize the process of reformation, will be doing a disservice to the party.
Q) On Prashant Kishor’s official entry into the party..
Let the High command talk about his role. Kishore is already in the process of reviving the party and has had many discussions with important leaders in this regard. There is a consensus emerging in the party to involve him.
He is helpful and I feel that he should be involved more. Anybody who opposes it, is opposing the higher prospects of the Congress.
Kishor is constantly having consultations with Raul Gandhi and Mrs Gandhi. He came down to Bengaluru and we had a chat too. I was chairman of the committee appointed by Mrs Gandhi in 2006 or 2007 to give feedback on the reform process in Congress. My report was submitted in 2007. Many leaders including Jyotiraditya Scindia, Rahul Gandhi, Sachin Pilot, and Ghulam Nabi Azad were members of the committee. Three months back, I submitted the latest update of the 2007 report to Mrs Gandhi. All these are under consideration of the High Command to revive the party.
Q) About Leadership vacuum in the party.
Where is the vacuum? It is an artificial creation by the critics of the party. Mrs Gandhi is effectively leading and managing the affairs of the party.
Q) On organisational elections…
Why are these questions reserved only for Congress? Can you ask Narendra Modi if the BJP is holding organisational elections? What about regional parties such as political parties BSP, SP or others? Our membership is being renewed on a yearly basis and the process is on. Election is delayed because of Covid situation.
Q) Congress’ prospects in upcoming Assembly elections and 2024 General elections.
We will bounce back in the Assembly elections scheduled for early this year. We are working towards the goal and I am sure the Congress will be successful in this. We have better prospects in 2024 Parliament elections too.
Q) On Pre- poll surveys predicting AAP’s win in Punjab.
Some of the surveys are sponsored surveys by political parties. I don’t have this opinion about all surveys. Those sponsored surveys don’t reflect reality.