Party must elect a good non-Gandhi leader who can inspire its supporters
The Congress party has been ‘headless’ for nearly two and half months following the resignation of Rahul Gandhi on May 25. He quit his post following the massive renewal of the mandate of Narendra Modi, telling his party men to elect a non-Gandhi president – a decision no one expected, especially after he had taken over his office recently and led the party campaign from the front. At first, senior party men thought he would take back his resignation, but he refused to budge. His insistence created an uncertainty about who was leading the Congress, and that cost the party in terms of migration of Congressmen to the BJP. Now a meeting of the Congress Working Committee has been called on August 10 to deliberate on finding a new party president. Some names have been floating in the media, but it is not known whether the CWC has shortlisted candidates. Priyanka Gandhi is out, as her candidature would be a contradiction to Rahul Gandhi’s position that the president must be from outside the Gandhi family.
Whoever they select they must do it fast. Because the Congress seems to be disintegrating under the double impact of the gigantic presence of Narendra Modi on the Indian politics and of the Congress disgrace of not doubling its tally in the Lok Sabha compared to the last elections as it expected. Rahul Gandhi did a great disservice to his party by retiring to privacy after the elections– at a time when people who had voted for him wanted to hear what their leader had to say on the future course. The party has never faced such a pathetic situation. The migration of party men to the BJP continues. The party lost power in Karnataka and MLAs in other states. In Goa 10 of its 15 legislators crossed over to BJP seeing no future in the party owing to vacuum in leadership. The all India party is speaking in different voices on the NDA Kashmir decision. Some prominent Congress leaders have backed the NDA decision, when Rahul Gandhi and others have criticized it. Where is the party heading? To extinction, exactly as Modi wishes?
Before the Lok Sabha elections Rahul Gandhi talked of great plans for the ‘revival’ of the party. He risked the hostility of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party by setting up Congress candidates in several constituencies in UP saying that his party was preparing to rebuild its support for the 2022 Assembly elections. What happened to that revival plan? Today the party has fallen to such depths it needs a survival plan. If there is survival, then only there can be revival. And the hope of survival can only be kindled by the election of a ‘good’ leader. There are many politicians in the senior ranks of the party. But with the party being led by one from the Gandhi family for such a long time, no clear non-Gandhi alternative for leadership is in sight.
However, politics is a dynamic field. Politicians go, politicians emerge. Let us hope the Congress is able to find someone worthy. Even if he or she is not worthy there should be a president at least who can speak for the main opposition party. Let us remember that those who have been voting for the Congress party and have voted for the Congress during the last Lok Sabha elections were indifferent to the Modi attack on the Gandhi dynasty. What is dynasty to Modi and the BJP is trust in the personality of a Gandhi to the party’s voters. These voters would need some time before they can accept a non-Gandhi president. Much will depend on the ability of the non-Gandhi leader to take the Congress voters along with him, despite the absence from the leadership of the Gandhis. These voters would of course have the understanding at the back of their mind that though the Gandhis have pulled themselves out of the leadership they are still there in the party. And it is for sure that Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Gandhi, even though they will not be holding the top office, will continue to be strong campaigners of the Congress during elections.