Rahul Gandhi’s resignation as Congress president was supposed to end the debate whether the Gandhis will actually relinquish stewardship of the party. But it ended up stoking a fresh one at a time when defections in Karnataka and Goa point to a crisis more fundamental than just a painful poll defeat. Is Congress really moving away from the Gandhi family, as the intense search for Rahul’s replacement wanted? Or, will it be a change of form, with a Gandhi returning to the party after the interim measure?
Three developments The dayRahul Gandhireleased his four-page farewell letter making his resignation irrevocable, his aides were quick to inform that he will personally appear in over 20 defamation cases filed against him by the RSS-BJP leaders across the country.
He started the next day at a Mumbai court and has since gone to Patna and Ahmedabad. On the Congress Working Committee, two days after the May 23 Lok Sabha debate, Rahul said he has waged a lone battle against theSangh Parivar, virtually arguing he wants to revive the administrative work of free .
At a gathering of MPs on June 26, Rahul said he would work for the party “10 times harder” than before This comes when the search for a new president, with a limited pool of choices, appears To see the outgoing chief’s political intent in conjunction with a veteran taking charge that suggests a change in form – the nuts and bolts of the organizational work will be the new president while the public face, in the long-term, will be a Gandhi
Fear of friction
The possibility of this diarchy remains strong as Congress moves into unchartered territory of non-Gandhi at the helm. Though the link has been disrupted, Congress has held its president (a Gandhi more likely than not) The Manmohan Singh-Sonia arrangement was the exception as she declined the job. Cutting across factions and individuals, the sentiment is that the Gandhis are not going anywhere
Curiously, a Congress insider, who has sounded out some potential candidates for the top job, revealed that a prized post Some old-timers are “strong loyalists”, uneasy about stepping in the shoes of a Gandhi while others do not want to be in a position where they have to decide on “three residences” for each decision.
The possibility of Rahul and Priyanka playing outsize roles will worry any incumbent There remains the other possibility – that a new president may begin to exercise powers Both scenarios Point to friction
Meanwhile, the party organization is in the folding up. The defection of 10 Goa legislators, eight of them Catholics, is a case in point with many points in the ineptness of the state in-charge A Chellakumar.
The political logic of the alliance with JD (S) in Karnataka is halted BJP has taken a beating with the saffron party 25 of 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
Two clear lobbies
In this scenario, who should head Congress? Opinion in the party One bloc believes the matter should be settled keeping age in mind: so, either it should back a veteran or opt for a GenNext leader. The other bloc feels it should be on the lines of identification, suggesting either a primacy for backward classes or upper castes. Ironically, the “new vs old” clash was brought out in a septuagenarian, Punjab Chief MinisterAmarinder Singh.
The irrepressible chief minister set the cat among the pigeons, saying, Congress needs to replace Rahul with a young leader who can “galvanise” the party. Singh was only giving vent to the sentiments of a strong section that is Congress “tokenism of experience and caste” from Congress and the public on the hands of people who have imagined to capture.
The “tokenism” alludes to the fact that at least three front-runners for AICC top job are experienced Dalit leaders above 70. The pro-young lobby, incidentally, is close to Rahul Gandhi and first shot in limelight as “Rahul’s team” during the UPA decade of 2004 to 2014.
“The challenge to Congress is so serious that either the party reinvents itself or everyone retires and forgets about politics. It is an existential moment, “said a former Union minister.
According to a GenNext member, the choice is simple: can Congress soften the public cynicism towards the party by appearing to turn the page with the honest choice of a leader who comes without any baggage? But the Congress party establishment – wizened faces and wise heads – appears to believe that it is time to consolidate and “take everyone along”
They argue that young age is not necessarily a magnet to attract the youth, pointing out that the whole party Gen-Next bit the dust in the Lok Sabha elections. The choice of a veteran is backed by regional satraps who believe a old hand would give freedom to state leaders. There is a possibility of a compromise on “inter-generational” leader But it will still be another compromise