Unity call at CWC meet to mourn Ahmed Patel, Tarun Gogoi but no resolution for Pranab

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NEW DELHI: Many Congress Working Committee members made emotional appeals to “join hands to protect the unity of the Congress” at a CWC meeting held on Friday to pass condolence resolutions following the demise of party stalwart Ahmed Patel and Assam veteran Tarun Gogoi. AICC general secretary Priyanka Vadra actively joined the unity appeals which were made after the resolutions. It was seen in party circles as the reflection of the growing concern of many leaders, and the Gandhi family, to prevent deepening internal differences from spinning out of control after ‘in-house healer’ Patel’s demise. The ‘sombre’ CWC meeting was the first since the stormy meet in August held after the joint letter from pro-changers.

However, after the CWC meeting, party circles angrily asked why the Congress leadership failed to pass a CWC resolution condoling the death of party star and former president Pranab Mukherjee, a Bharat Ratna, and place on record appreciation of his services too. “We are happy the CWC met within days to condole the deaths of Ahmed Patel ji and Gogoi ji. But even after three months since Pranab babu passed away, the leadership didn’t think about extending similar CWC honours to him. It’s a pity,” said a senior Congress leader.

Another leader pointed out that the constitution and convention of the party mandated CWC to pass condolence resolutions when former party presidents, CWC members and party leaders who held very important offices passed away. Among those who were received such honour included Arjun Singh, YS Rajashekhara Reddy and Dorjee Khandu.

“Pranab da served the party as its long-standing and senior most CWC member, as PCC president, AICC general secretary, AICC treasurer, leader of the Lok Sabha and held top most ministerial posts before becoming the Rashtrapati. He gave his heart and soul to the party and yet was not qualified for a CWC condolence resolution just as PV Narasimha Rao was not when he passed away in 2004. (An AICC plenary resolution finally acknowledged Rao’s contributions only two years ago). I can’t make myself an object of ridicule by offering any stupid technical excuse for this embarrassing omission,” said another AICC functionary.

At Friday’s CWC meeting for mourn Patel and Gogoi, sources said Priyanka Vadra made an ‘emotion intervention’, urging the CWC members to “unitedly work” to “protect the unity of the Congress party” and “strengthening” it. She stressed Patel’s qualities of being loyal, discreet and efficient. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi too made emotional recollection of the departed duo while paying rich tributes. Manmohan Singh and Mukul Wasnik moved the condolence resolutions. Many of them said the best tribute to Patel and Gogoi would be to keep the party united and stronger. Many others, including Ashok Gehlot, Ommen Chandy, Ambika Soni too made unity appeals while Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma too paid their tributes to the departed duo. The by-now familiar appeal to Rahul Gandhi to return as party chief was made by a couple of speakers such as Harish Rawat and Bhakta Charan Das. Patel’s contribution was his “unique capacity to reconcile competing aspirations and forge unity and comradeship among leaders and members of the party,” the CWC resolution said significantly.

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