In what can be seen as differences in opinion over change of leadership in Congress, former Delhi chief minister and party’s senior leader Sheila Dikshit on Tuesday said that Sonia Gandhi should continue as party’s president as she does not “run away’ from responsibilities.
“There are question marks over Rahul Gandhi’s leadership qualities. For revival of Congress, Sonia Gandhi should continue to lead the party. She doesn’t run away from her responsibilities and can be relied on,” said Dikshit.
She further added, “I am yet to meet anybody who has any critical remarks to make about the leadership of Sonia Gandhi. However, there is skepticism over Rahul Gandhi because you have not seen him perform as yet.”
However, after controversy erupted over her remark, Dikshit immediately gave clarification, stating, “My words were misquoted. I never said that Rahul Gandhi is incapable, neither did I mention his name during the conversation.”
Dikshit’s comments have come at a time when Congress appears divided on whether to anoint Rahul as president replacing his mother Sonia. Senior party leaders Amarinder Singh and Dikshit’s son Sandeep had come out strongly against Rahul’s elevation.
Dikshit’s son Sandeep had earlier this month said that Sonia was the “leader” for “99 per cent of partymen” and she was needed at the helm now more than ever. Singh had said Sonia should “retain” Congress Presidentship and a generational change cannot be done “with a knife”.
“There is a comfort feeling with Sonia Gandhi as she has done things which we would not have expected. She never accepted PM’s post yet she made Congress win twice in general elections. So, that comfort feeling is there with her. She is a confident leader whom Congress can rely upon.
“That comfort feeling has yet to develop where Rahul is concerned,” Dikshit said, adding it was too early to judge his leadership credentials.
Asked whether the party should accept if Sonia decides to step down, Dikshit said it was for her to take a call.
“She is not one of those who runs away from responsibility. I do not think she is the kind who does that. And when it comes to the survival of the Congress or the ideology of the Congress she is always there,” she said.
Asked whether Rahul will be able to steer the party if made president, Dikshit said it was too early to comment.
“It’s a question of the future. How he does, what he does… When you get full responsibility, you may come out with a different colour,” said Dikshit.
On opposition’s criticism of Rahul over his nearly two-month-long sabbatical, Dikshit said it was a “non-issue.”
“I do not give too much importance to it. Mrs Gandhi is the president and, in the last three or four weeks or so, she has once again shown her mettle…..Her concern for things that matter to India like (protecting) the interest of the farmers and price rise.”