Congress morale low, Sonia and Rahul must speak more

P Chidambaram

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Friday said the Congress morale was “pretty low” at the moment and that both party president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi needed to “speak more”.

They should show the “urgency” to reorganise the party and lead the Congress to play the role of the “true opposition”, Chidambaram told. He also agreed a non-Gandhi could lead the party “some day”. On the land deal between Sonia’s son-in-law Robert Vadra and real estate firm DLF in Haryana, he said, “I don’t know the facts. Whether they (the Haryana government) were helping him or whether they were taking a routine decision, I don’t know the facts.

So how can I comment on that.” “Without knowing the facts, I don’t think it is fair to comment on any particular transaction. Unless I have the papers in front of me, unless I have the facts in front of me, I can’t comment on any transaction,” he said. Asked if he was distancing himself from the issue, he said, “If I am obliged to comment, if I am authorised to comment, I will, provided I have before me the fact and the papers.”

Asked whether the Vadra issue created a perception problem for the Congress, he said, “May be it did. I don’t know.” Asked whether the party handled it effectively, he said, “I don’t know. May be it did, but these are questions which must be answered by people who were there in the field in Haryana, people who were contesting elections. I don’t know.”

Chidambaram said he was concerned about the lack of visibility of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. “I would urge the Congress president and the Congress vice-president to speak more. I would urge them to come and address more rallies, I would urge them to meet the media. I would urge them to do that,” he said.

He said Sonia continues to be “the most acceptable leader of his generation” and Rahul has wide acceptance among the younger members of the party. Asked whether a non-Gandhi could become the Congress president, he said, “I think so. Some day, yes.” He agreed that the Congress morale was pretty low but said it can be lifted. “I agree that the Congress morale is pretty low. But I don’t agree that the morale cannot be lifted, that a direction cannot be given… It’s a matter of time, more accurately a matter of timing.

I am sure that the Congress leadership has its own timetable. I would urge again that the timetable be shortened and get on with the job of reorganising the party and getting on with the job of being true opposition.” Asked whether he felt the Congress leadership need to respond with a little more urgency, he said, “I think so.”

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