After facing a humiliating defeat in the 2019 general elections the Congress camp is yet to recover from the jolt. Dissent and leadership crisis has plagued the grand old party which added a few seats to its total of 44 in 2014 general election to arrive at a dismal 52 in 2019 even after bombastic political campaigns. Tall leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge, Jyotiraditya Scindia and even Rahul Gandhi have lost from erstwhile strong holds of the Congress.
What followed the defeat was a barrage of resignations flowing in from various State and district Congress committee presidents, joining in the trend was also Congress President Rahul Gandhi himself, who faced a humiliating defeat against BJP’s Smriti Irani in Amethi. However Congress’ Central Working Committee had outright rejected his resignation. Filled with Gandhi loyalists, this move by Congress’ CWC is surely not a surprise to any. However, Congress President has appeared insistent on leaving the top post and the drama continues, more than a month after the mega electoral mandate.
However, new reports have emerged which suggest that Priyanka might be the PM nominee for INC in 2024. In light of this, Rahul Gandhi’s drama around the resignation seems to be a concerted campaign to elevate Priyanka and keep the PM-nominee seat in the family.
Journalist and author Rasheed Kidwai, who has also penned a book about the Congress, wrote in an article that it is a hush-hush plan but it is hidden from no one in the party. As far as Rahul Gandhi’s fate goes, Rasheed Kidwai states in the article that he is likely to take the role of an ‘ideologue’. He writes “ Rahul Gandhi is set to get a leadership role in the mould of an ideologue or a supreme leader without holding an office.” Looking at all the drama and all the bizarre steps like media boycott and others, this entire charade seems to be a meek attempt at retaining control of the party, within the family, despite the repeated failures of the Nehru-Gandhi family leaders.
For the Congress the leadership, the crisis goes deeper than the question of Rahul Gandhi. Over decades, the organizational structure of the party has been systematically transformed from a cadre based party to a family run show. All the important positions of the Congress’ organizational structure are predominantly decided by a group of select individuals which form the so called Central Working Committee of the Congress. Full of Gandhi-Nehru-Vadra family loyalists, CWC of the Congress has been notorious for taking unilateral decisions based on the whims and wishes of Gandhi-Nehru family.
The search for a new Congress President to replace Rahul Gandhi is surely not going to be an easy task for the family run party. Recent media reports had also suggested that Ashok Gehlot might emerge as the favorite choice. Speculations are also ripe that, Ashok Gehlot’s move to the central party leadership might place Rajasthan Dy CM Sachin pilot in a favorable position to take over the CM’s post in the state. Nonetheless, the debate over getting young leaders at the top post might turn tables for the duo of Gehlot and Pilot.
Reportedly, Rahul Gandhi has set a condition that if he resigns, Priyanka Gandhi, or any other member of the Gandhi-Nehru family will not be appointed as the president of the grand old party. This again seems to be part of a charade which might involve appointing a non-Gandhi Congress leader to the President’s post and Priyanka would eventually step in to take the charge as PM-candidate in 2024.