Speak on Rafale, unemployment: PC hits out at Modi

Speak on Rafale, unemployment: PC hits out at Modi

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram. PTI file Photo

Taking the Congress' charge forward, senior leader P Chidambaram has responded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dare.

In an election rally in Chhattisgarh's Ambikapur on Friday, Modi had dared the Congress to make a party-member from outside the Nehru-Gandhi family as its president.

In response, Chidambaram took to Twitter listing out names of Congress presidents from outside the Nehru-Gandhi family and advised the prime minister to instead speak on Rafale aircraft deal, unemployment and farmer suicides.

"To jog PM Modi's memory: among the Congress Presidents since 1947 were Acharya Kripalani, Pattabhi Sitaramayya, Purushottamdas Tandon, U N Dhebar, Sanjiva Reddy, Sanjivaiah, Kamaraj, Nijalingappa, C Subramanian, Jagjivan Ram, Shankar Dayal Sharma, D K Barooah, Brahmananda Reddy, P V Narasimha Rao and Sitaram Kesri (sic)," he said.

Taking a jibe at Modi, Chidambaram said that he was grateful that the prime minister was "concerned" about who is elected as the Congress president and that Modi devotes a lot of time talking about it.

"Will he (Modi) spend half the time and speak about demonetisation, GST, Rafale, CBI and the RBI? Will PM Modi speak about farmers' suicides, massive unemployment, lynchings, rape crimes against women and children, anti-Romeo squads, gau rakshak vigilantism and increasing terror attacks?" the Congress leader said.

Battle of barbs

The battle of barbs between Modi and Chidambaram kicked in after the prime minister reacted sharply to the earlier remarks of Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor and Mallikarjun Kharge that a "chaiwala" (tea seller) could become the prime minister as the Congress had preserved democracy

"They (Congress leaders) are saying it was due to a great person, due to Pandit Nehru, that a chaiwala became the prime minister. If you so much respect the democracy, do a small thing. If you claim that because of your principles, your faith in democracy, the Constitution and Pandit Nehru, Modi, a chaiwala, could become the PM, appoint someone good from outside the (Gandhi) family as the Congress president for just five years," Modi had said.

Line of presidents

Sonia Gandhi became the longest serving Congress president, who was at the helm of party affairs for a record 19 years till 2017 since she assumed the post in 1998.

In 2017, her son Rahul Gandhi was handed over the mantle.

Before Sonia, a veteran from Bihar, Sitaram Kesri, who was called "Chacha" became the party's president in September 1996 but he had to step down under unceremonious circumstances in March 1998.

Many others were interim presidents.

P V Narsimha Rao was party president for five years from 1992 to 1996 and Rajiv Gandhi (1985 to 1991).

Before that Indira Gandhi was the Congress president for five years between 1978 and 1983, Shankar Dayal Sharma and Devkant Barua for three years each between 1972 and 1974 and 1975-1977.

Many other party presidents, however, were in office for just a year for various reasons.

Congress presidents used to have a tenure of three years but there period in office was extended to five years along with the the tenure of office bearers and committees at the AICC session at Burari, Delhi, in 2010.