New Delhi: A senior Congress leader on Monday said he saw the hand of a "syndicate" involving some party members behind former Union minister Jayanthi Natarajan's attack on Rahul Gandhi and called for identifying those who are making "concerted efforts to defame and weaken" the Congress vice president.
Drawing a parallel between the coming together of some Congress veterans against Indira Gandhi and forming Congress (O) in 1969 and the recent attack on Rahul, former Union Minister and Special Invitee to Congress Working Committee, Anil Shastri, told PTI that he feels "definitely there is a group of some leaders who are doing this".
He alleged that the strategy was to weaken Rahul and in the process hurt the party.
"There is definitely a concerned effort on part of some party leaders to weaken Rahul Gandhi and create a situation in which he does not take over as party president at a time when there is talk that he may take the post after organisational elections. They want to somehow thwart that," Shastri said.
Son of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, the Congress leader, who heads the Hindi department of AICC and was earlier editor of the party's official mouthpiece 'Congress Sandesh', said he does feel that there is some kind of a "syndicate-like situation now".
"Even in the Syndicate, it was a group of senior leaders who had targeted Indira Gandhi," he said while opining that the Congress leadership should not to sit quietly and take corrective measures. "The leadership should identify them like Indira Gandhi had done," he said.
He said his doubts also stemmed from how some leaders have chosen to target the Congress Vice President and have deserted the party one after another following the party's poor showing in the last Lok Sabha elections.
A number of leaders, who resigned close to the Lok Sabha polls and thereafter, had raised questions over the style of functioning of the Congress leadership. Some of them joined the BJP and are now ministers.
Natarajan, the Union Environment Minister from July, 2011, to December, 2013, resigned from Congress last week alleging that she had followed Rahul Gandhi's directions in giving the green nod to certain big ticket projects but was "vilified, humiliated and sidelined" by the leadership.
Former Congress Working Committee member and ex-MP Jagmeet Singh Brar, who was suspended from the party last year and had then resigned from its primary membership, was quick to back Natarajan, saying, "Purgation at the top is the only remedy for the rejuvenation of the Congress in the existing scenario."