Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday joined the league of Congress leaders lashing out at their colleague Kapil Sibal for his remarks against the leadership, saying that the senior lawyer was not a man of “Congress culture”.
“Kapil Sibal isn’t a person from Congress culture. He’s a renowned advocate who entered Congress. Sonia ji and Rahul ji has given him a lot of chances. It’s expected from a person who doesn’t know ABC of Congress to give such statements,” Mr Gehlot told news agency ANI.
Earlier, speaking to reporters in Jaipur, he termed Mr Sibal’s comments “unfortunate” and said, “At a time when the party is losing elections, leaders should stand united.”
He said the Congress is the only party that can fight against the BJP and praised Rahul Gandhi for taking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Those who are talking about finishing the Congress party will themselves get finished. The Congress is years old party and our leaders have made supreme sacrifices before and after the Independence,” he said.
Mr Sibal, one of the members of the group of 23 or “G-23” dissidents who had written a letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi two years ago, voicing concerns about the party’s dwindling fortunes in elections and calling for sweeping changes, has said the Gandhis should step aside and give some other leader a chance to lead the party following the drubbing in state elections last week.
“Leadership is in cuckoo land… I want a ‘Sab ki Congress’. Some want a ‘Ghar ki Congress’,” Mr Sibal told The Indian Express newspaper in an interview.
The remarks came after the Congress Working Committee met on Sunday, and after almost five hours of deliberations urged Sonia Gandhi to continue to lead and initiate changes required to strengthen the party.
The CWC also rejected Ms Gandhi’s offer to resign, along with her children Rahul and Priyanka, and reposed faith in her leadership.
For his critique of the Gandhi family, Mr Sibal has faced acerbic attacks within his party.
The party’s Lok Sabha whip Manickam Tagore, a staunch Rahul Gandhi loyalist, accused him of speaking the language of the BJP and its ideological parent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) who want the Gandhis to be out of leadership position to kill the Congress party and destroy the idea of India.
Congress national spokesperson Pawan Khera said Mr Sibal should contest elections for the post of Congress president instead of making public comments against the leadership.
“Why RSS and BJP wants Nehru-Gandhi’s out of the leadership? Because without Gandhi’s leadership Congress will be become Janata party. It’s easy to kill Congress then it’s easy to destroy the idea of India (sic),” Mr Tagore said on Twitter.
“Kapil Sibal knows it but why he is speaking the language of RSS/BJP,” he said.
Mr Khera also put out a Twitter post hitting out at Mr Sibal.
“Dr Harshvardhan did not ask you to step aside from Chandni Chowk. He fought an election and defeated you Kapil Sibal. Those who want to lead Congress are free to fight upcoming election for the position of party president instead of chanting everyday against current leadership,” Mr Khera tweeted.