I am a full time, hands-on Congress president: Sonia Gandhi
New Delhi/UNI: Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi Saturday hit back at her critics within the party and outside as she emphasised being a "full time" and "hands-on" president of the political outfit, saying revival of the party requires "self-control and discipline".
Addressing a meeting of the Congress Working Committee, the first physical meeting of the highest decision making body since the COVID-19 outbreak, the party president openly responded to 'G-23' group's continued demand pushing for an organisational overhaul and election of a "visible and effective leadership".
The 74-year-old interim chief said a schedule for the organisational elections has been prepared and will be discussed.
In an apparent response to criticism from senior party leaders from the 'G23', she said she appreciates frankness, and the media should not be used to send her messages or talk about party issues.
"Today is the occasion for bringing clarity once and for all. A Schedule for full-fledged organizational elections is before you. General Secretary, Organization, Venugopalji will brief you on the entire process later.
"I have always appreciated frankness. There is no need to speak to me through the media. So let us all have a free and honest discussion. But what should get communicated outside the four walls of this room is the collective decision of the CWC," Sonia Gandhi announced in her opening address.
"I am, if you will allow me to say so, a full-time and hands on Congress President," she said.
She also called for discipline and self control and urged party leaders to keep interest of the party paramount.
"The entire organization wants a revival of the Congress. But this requires unity and keeping the party’s interests paramount. Above all, it requires self-control and discipline. I am acutely conscious of the fact that I have been interim Congress President ever since the CWC, asked me to return in this capacity in 2019," she said.
She also said that long back a roadmap was finalised for electing a regular president of the party by Jun 30, 2021, but the second wave of COVID-19 broke out and the deadline was extended indefinitely at the May 10 CWC meeting.
The CWC comes days after senior party leader from the 'G-23', Kapil Sibal, launched a scathing attack on party leadership, questioning the decision making in the backdrop of events in Punjab Congress.
Protests at Sibal's residence by Congress workers also sparked strong reactions from senior party leaders.
Another senior party leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad, also wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi asking her to call a CWC meeting.
In her opening remarks at the CWC meet, the interim Congress president also wished for a speedy recovery to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and also mentioned the farmers' agitation and price rise.
She also said that the party can "do well" in the upcoming assembly polls if there is discipline and the focus is on the party’s interests alone.