After facing another humiliating electoral defeat in the 2019 general elections, speculation over Rahul Gandhi quitting as the Congress President is rife, both within and outside the party. Congress, this election, might have added a few seats to its total of 44 in 2014 to arrive at dismal 52 this general elections however the margin of victory has been considerably reduced. Tall leaders like Mallikarjuna Kharge, Jyotiraditya Scindia even Rahul Gandhi have lost from erstwhile strongholds of the Congress.
With a dismal performance, the ground is open for the blame game to peak. A barrage of resignations from various State and district Congress committee presidents are already flowing in. Joining in trend is Congress President Rahul Gandhi himself, who faced a humiliating defeat against BJP’s Smriti Irani in Amethi. However, Congress’ Central Working Committee has out rightly rejected his resignation. Filled with Gandhi loyalists, this move by Congress CWC is surely not a surprise to any.
However if push comes to shove Rahul Gandhi might be forced to sideline himself from the top post in an attempt to ease out the anger from within the Congress, however, if this scenario plays out, a dearth of second-line leaders in the Congress is sure to impact this transformation. Nonetheless, some faces might emerge who could take over as the Congress president, till the party recovers out of this embarrassing defeat. Some worthy prospects for this job might be.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra
The most eligible candidate for this transformation is surely Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. With her roots in the Gandhi-Nehru-Vadra dynasty, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is sure to emerge as a favorite for Congress loyalists, who have always pushed for a member of the Gandhi family to lead. Priyanka Gandhi comes to the table with limited political experience as she was inducted into the Congress just months before the Lok Sabha polls. Priyanka was also made the election in charge for Eastern UP, however, in all the seats barring Rae Bareli, Congress had to face a humiliating defeat.
Considered the right-hand man of Sonia Gandhi, Ahmed Patel comes to the fray with decades of political experience. Even during Manmohan Singh’s government, he was considered to be the de facto decision maker. Currently the Treasurer of All India Congress Committee, Ahmed Patel is also well versed with the political circles of Lutyens Delhi. However, in a party where dynasticism is given precedence over merit, Ahmed Patel’s elevation to the post of Congress President is sure to meet stiff resistance.
A career diplomat and in a select group of few senior Congress leaders who have survived the 2019 general elections against the BJP, Shashi Tharoor might emerge as a viable option given his decades of professional and political experience. He is also the chairman of All India Professionals Congress. However, Tharoor with his personality is sure to face problems in developing a sense of connect with ground leaders coming from other states. Shashi Tharoor is also set to face resistance from other leaders who not only supersede him on grounds of seniority but also on closeness with the Gandhi-Nehru family.
Son of senior Congress leader, Rajesh Pilot is also in the list of probable candidates for the post of Congress president. Considered to have played an instrumental role in reviving Congress in Rajasthan and getting it back to power, Sachin pilot has surely displayed his organizational and electoral skills. However, he was later sidelined and Ashok Gehlot was given the top post in the state. Sachin pilot also comes as a threat to Rahul Gandhi’s future leadership, which might further restrict his elevation to the top post.
Only time will tell if Rahul Gandhi steps down and if he does who will be filling in his shoes. Till then the Congress is sure to face calls for massive restructuring from within the party and its sympathizers from outside.