Indiscipline in the Congress was one of the key issues raised on Friday at the first Congress Working Commitee (CWC) meeting Rahul Gandhi chaired after taking over as the party president, against the backdrop of Mani Shankar Aiyar's "neech" remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Though no names were mentioned, some Congress Working Committee members raised the issue of leaders making "irrelevant" statements that hurt the party and adversely impacted its prospects in elections.
The issue cropped up at the meeting of the Congress's highest decision-making body days after senior leader M Veerapa Moily said controversial statements by Aiyar and Kapil Sibal might have undone the gains made by Rahul Gandhi during campaigning in the Gujarat elections.
Modi had used Aiyar's remark that he (the prime minister) was a "neech kism ka aadmi" (a vile sort of person) to the hilt at the hustings to whip up a sense of Gujarati pride.
Senior Congress leader and lawyer Kapil Sibal's pitch for deferment of the hearing of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title suit till after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, many feel, also harmed the party's chances in elections.
The Congress suspended Aiyar's primary membership the day he made the comment, while it distanced itself from Sibal's remark.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, sources said the issues of indiscipline and leaders making out of turn statements were raised by many CWC members and discussed.
These members also suggested action against such "errant" leaders.
Gandhi, they said, was in agreement with those who brought up the issue. "We will ensure discipline is enforced and the party is strengthened," Gandhi was quoted as having told the meeting.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh spoke about the challenges before the party, and insisted on greater accountability of leaders.
"The Working Committee was unanimous in saying that the momentum gained from the current set of elections would only be enhanced so that in the next set of elections Congress emerges victorious," the party's communications incharge Randeep Surjewala told journalists after the meeting.