Former Defence Minister AK Antony on Wednesday said that the BJP can't be defeated without the Congress. He added that the Gandhis are the powerhouse of the Congress and there can't be leadership in the party without the Nehru-Gandhi family.
The senior leader when asked said "They (Gandhis) are the powerhouse and guiding force in the party and represent the ideals and ideas of the Congress and have support of 99 percent of the Congress workers."
The statement gains significance after talks with political strategist Prashant Kishor failed. Antony is close to the first family of the Congress and stressed that the party should not be underestimated and without the Congress the BJP can't be defeated.
Sources said Antony was one of the naysayers to the proposals mooted by Kishor during his presentation to the party.
He said that he is optimistic about the Congress and it should not be underestimated and will make a comeback as without the Congress Narendra Modi can't be defeated in 2024.
Other Congress leaders too have expressed the hope that the party's upcoming 'Chintan Shivir' in Rajasthan will revive the party after talks with Prashant Kishor failed on Tuesday.
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Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, who was part of the deliberations, said: "It is ultimately the Congress which has to move and put it's house in order. Consultant or no Consultant.
I have a strong hunch that the Chintin Shivir will bring in a new Congress which is the need of the hour."
The 'Chintan Shivir' is scheduled from May 13 in Udaipur where around 400 delegates will participate from across the country.
The party has constituted six sub-groups to prepare an agenda for the event.
Leadership of Nehru-Gandhi family backbone of Congress: AntonyBidding goodbye to Delhi, 81-year-old former Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Wednesday gave a thumbs up to the Nehru-Gandhi family and said their leadership is the backbone of the Congress party.
Antony, who reached Delhi in 2005 by becoming a Rajya Sabha member after quitting as Kerala Chief Minister in 2004 following the whitewash the Congress party suffered when just one seat out of the 20 was won in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, is now packing his bags from Delhi and will reach the state capital on Thursday.
He has a house in the capital city and on Wednesday told the media in Delhi that he will now operate from his office at the state party headquarters for as long as the party wants.
"The leadership of the Nehru-Gandhi family is the backbone of the Congress party and without them there is no existence for the party. The statement that if any one criticises the Nehru-Gandhi family, their future is over is totally wrong because if that was true then I would not have been here ," said Antony who holds the record for being the longest serving Defence Minister of the country, a post that he held from 2006 till 2014, spread over two UPA governments led by Manmohan Singh.
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Antony along with his erstwhile faction in the Congress party in Kerala split from the Indian National Congress and joined the government led by CPI-M leader E.K. Nayanar in 1980. In 1982 Antony and others who included Oommen Chandy returned to the Congress party.
"I don't think any other Congressman would have got this much from the party as I got. I am quite confident that the upcoming conclave in Rajasthan will mark the return of the Congress party. An opposition without the Congress party has no merit and no meaning," added Antony.
"I have been in the Congress Working Committee for a very long time and now it's time for me to move out and I do not wish to continue in it. Now, after I reach home, I will speak to my colleagues in the party in Kerala and decide my future work," said Antony.
Even though Antony was Kerala Chief Minister three times (1977-78, 1995-96 and 2001-04) he never got a full five year term, while he got a full five years as Leader of Opposition 1996-2001).