In a clear warning to some of its “loose cannons”, the Congress on Sunday stressed that it expected its leaders and workers to “toe the party line” on larger political issues in their public interactions.
In the meeting of the newly formed Congress Working Committee (CWC) meet, party President Rahul Gandhi and AICC General Secretary Ashok Gehlot both emphasised in their respective addresses that party leaders and workers should observe discipline.
“The Congress President clearly said, he gave a friendly advice, and he hopes that all leaders of Congress party in view of the larger goal, that is, 2019 elections, will maintain discipline in both their language and conduct,” Congress spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala said while briefing the media after the meet.
“There is full freedom of expression but as far party line (on various issues) is concerned, the Congress leadership will expect from its leaders and workers that they maintain the dignity of the language as well as that of conduct,” he added.
Surjewala said that Gehlot, in his address, underlined that first this discipline would be expected from the leaders and then from the workers.
In the past, certain comments by some Congress party leaders have cost the party dearly with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) quickly encashing on the same, such as the BJP starting its “chai pe charcha” (discussion over tea) campaign in 2014 Lok Sabha elections after Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “chaiwallah” (tea vendor).
The CWC also authorised party chief Rahul Gandhi to take a decision on alliances for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, both pre-poll and post-poll.
Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala, who briefed reporters after the meeting here, said that the opposition party was prepared for a “larger alliance” to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance in the next general elections.
“The CWC, the party’s highest decision making body, authorised Gandhi to take appropriate decision for pre- and post-poll alliances as well as to form a small committee for the purpose, if needed,” Surjewala said.
Surjewala said that Gandhi will either involve himself or his senior colleagues in states where such alliances are needed.
He said an elaborate discussion was held on alliances at the meeting