The 1991 saga has hit the Congress once again
New Delhi, Aug 24: The ongoing crisis in the Congress is a reminder of what had taken place in the party in 1991.
Following the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi had turned down repeated requests to take over the chief of the party. It was only in 1997 did Sonia Gandhi agree to enter politics and become a primary member of the party.
Until then the party was run by former Prime Minister, Narasimha Rao and Sitaram Kesari.
There was an internal revolt and in 1996, Rao had to step down, while Kesari was removed in a hurriedly called meeting. Kesari was blamed for the party's preparedness for the mid-term elections in 1998.
It was on March 14 1998 that Sonia Gandhi was elected president of the party. However on May 15 1999 just before the Lok Sabha elections, Sharad Pawar, P A Sangma and Tariq Anwar revolted against her and questioned her projection as the prime ministerial candidate. They said that this was not acceptable due to her foreign origin.
While tendering her resignation, she wrote, although born in a foreign land, I chose India as my country and would remain an Indian till my last breath. India is my motherland dearer to me than my own life, she had also written.
This led to party workers going on a hunger strike and there were nationwide agitation by Congress workers asking her to take back her decision. This also led to Digvijaya Singh (Madhya Pradesh), Sheila Dikshit (Delhi), Ashok Gehlot (Rajasthan) and Giridhar Gamang (Odisha), the then chief ministers resigning.
Finally she agreed to withdraw her resignation after the party expelled Pawar, Sangma and Anwar for six years on May 20 1999. The next day a special session of the All India Congress Committee was convened to welcome her back as the chief of the party.