Sonia may meet dissident Congress leaders on Saturday

She is likely to meet only a few leaders from the group of 23 who had signed a letter questioning the party leadership; it is not clear if Rahul and Priyanka will be in attendance

Congress president Sonia Gandhi

Interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi may finally meet the group of Congress “rebels”, who wrote a letter in August calling for sweeping organisational changes in the party.

The NDTV reported that former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath was behind setting up the meeting. Twenty three leaders had signed the letter, but only a core group of five or six leaders will get a chance to express their concerns.

The meeting is likely to take place on December 19 (Saturday), but it is not clear if Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will be in attendance. However, Congress leaders say the meeting will be attended even by those who were not signatories to the “letter of dissent”.

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It is said that Kamal Nath stands with the dissident leaders, who had written a letter in August calling for an “active and present leadership”. A day before the crucial meeting of the Congress Working Committee on Monday, August 24, a group of senior and middle-level Congress leaders through a joint letter virtually placed the party’s top leadership on notice. Though there has been a question mark over the leadership issue in the Congress party for a while, fresh warning signals came in the form of a letter written by as many as 23 Congress leaders to party president Sonia Gandhi.

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Seventy-four-old Sonia Gandhi has been interim party president since her son Rahul Gandhi quit last year over the party’s poor show in national elections for the second time in a row. Since then, the party has lost two important states — Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh — and has barely held on to Rajasthan, where rebel Sachin Pilot came around after meeting with the Gandhis.

The results of recent Bihar elections, which the Congress lost badly, too, threatened a rebellion. Kapil Sibal, who was one of the 23 dissident leaders, publicly criticised the party leadership, saying “the time for introspection is over”. Later, P Chidambaram, too, suggested strengthening the party core.