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Shashi Tharoor, Others Defend Manmohan Singh After Stormy Congress Meet

Former ministers from the Manmohan Singh cabinet spoke out in his defence. (File photo)

New Delhi:

Two days after a Congress meeting saw arguments and sharp criticism by younger leaders who appeared to blame the party’s last government for its massive downfall, a section of the party rallied for former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Twitter.

Lawmakers Anand Sharma, Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewari and former Mumbai Congress chief Milind Deora – all ministers in Dr Singh’s cabinet at one point – defended the former Prime Minister, tagging criticism for him as “ill-informed” and part of a “motivated and malicious narrative”.

Anand Sharma posted an 11-tweet thread listing the achievements of the 10-year Congress rule and how it had fallen “victim of a grand political conspiracy and malicious disinformation campaign of the BJP, political opponents and powerful vested interests”.

Sparring between the former Union Ministers who were part of the Manmohan Singh government and leaders identified as members of Rahul Gandhi’s team at the meeting called by party chief Sonia Gandhi on Thursday had once again highlighted the rift within the Congress since it lost power to the BJP in 2014.

The younger leaders reportedly said those who were part of the last United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government should take the blame for the Congress’s rapid decline. Some of them also called for Rahul Gandhi’s return as Congress president, pointing out that there was no consensus on any other candidate.

Manmohan Singh, the two-time Prime Minister whose second term ended in a haze of corruption and policy paralysis allegations, did not say a word during the four-hour video meeting, say sources.

The meeting came as the Congress struggles to contain the second open revolt by one of the party’s young faces – Sachin Pilot, who has pushed his party’s Rajasthan government to the edge just months after Jyotiraditya Scinda scripted the collapse of its administration in Madhya Pradesh by joining the BJP.

Rahul Gandhi quit the Congress top post after the party’s national election debacle last year, the second in a row. His mother Sonia Gandhi took over as interim chief until the party settled on a new president. Over a year later, that has not changed.

The clash reportedly began with the veteran Congress Rajya Sabha members flagging their concern about the party’s failure to capitalize on topics that seem to have hobbled Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government this year, including the economic slowdown, the coronavirus response and the dispute with China.

The senior leaders reportedly assessed the Congress’s offensive as too weak and disorganised to dent PM Modi’s support. They suggested that there should be more introspection and consultation and questioned the lack of discussion, debate and consultation.

Given that Rahul Gandhi has led that offensive, with videos and daily tweets, younger MPs objected. Rajiv Satav, 45, reportedly cut in that a “complete introspection” was needed, right from the Congress’s 2014 defeat.

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