Congress should revive itself as country needs strong opposition: Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut

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Updated: August 27, 2020 5:40 PM

Sanjay Raut said that Rahul Gandhi is the only leader in the Congress who has unanimous acceptability in the party.

Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut. (File pic)

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Thursday said the Congress should revive itself as the country needs a strong opposition party. Talking to reporters, Raut who is the executive editor of party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, said that Rahul Gandhi is the only leader in the Congress, who has “unanimous acceptability” in the party.

Sonia Gandhi is ageing and I don’t see Priyanka Gandhi in full-time politics. There are many senior leaders in the party, due to whom Rahul Gandhi is not being able to work,” he said.

“‘Saamana’ has put forth its stand on the issue. As a journalist and editor, I don’t see a non-Gandhi leader in the Congress as the party president,” he said.

“The country requires a strong opposition party and the Congress has a pan-India identity. The party should recover from the present turmoil and resume work,” the Sena MP said.

Raut’s remarks come in the backdrop of the controversy over the letter written by 23 Congress leaders, to Sonia Gandhi, in which they called for far-reaching reforms within the party, such as having a “full time, active and visible” leadership, devolution of powers to state units and revamping the CWC in line with the party constitution.

The Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Monday unanimously urged Sonia Gandhi to stay on as the party chief till a new president is appointed and authorised her to bring about organisational changes to take on the challenges within.

In an editorial in ‘Saamana’ on Thursday, the Shiv Sena alleged that the letter written by 23 senior Congress leaders to Sonia Gandhi was a “conspiracy to finish off Rahul Gandhi’s leadership”.

Where were these leaders when the BJP was indulging in “below the belt attacks” on Rahul Gandhi, and after he quit as the Congress president why these leaders did not take up the challenge to revive the party, it asked.

“When people from within are involved in the national conspiracy to finish off Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, the party is sure to meet its ‘panipat’ (defeat)…these old guards have sabotaged Rahul Gandhi internally, a damage which even the BJP hasn’t inflicted on him,” it added.

None of them are even district-level leaders, but have become chief ministers and Union ministers riding on the leadership of the Gandhi-Nehru family, said the Sena, which tied-up with the Congress and NCP to form government in Maharashtra last year after a fallout with the BJP.

Meanwhile, Raut said that Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray should establish himself at the national level too.

To a question if Thackeray should lead the UPA in Maharashtra, Raut said, “The UPA leader is at present Sonia Gandhi. Sharad Pawar is an important leader here. Uddhav Thackeray should also lead the anti-BJP front if state issues are not resolved. Maharashtra should lead the way.” He said the coordination in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) was “excellent”.

Raut said the decision on reopening of gyms and temples in the state will be taken after September 1.

On the letter written by Congress MLAs to the chief minister about “inequitable distribution’ of funds, Raut said, “There are always issues over disbursal of funds among elected representatives.”

“The Centre has frozen the MP fund and there is lot of resentment over it. When the BJP-Sena were in power, our MLAs would complain that the BJP got more funds,” he said.

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