Facing a deep existential crisis after the humiliating defeat in 2019 general elections, the Congress is yet to come out of the conundrum over leadership roles in various critical state units and more importantly in its central unit. A recent directive of the Congress central leadership has again stirred the leadership debate in Congress and more importantly the debate around the role of Rahul Gandhi, who has resigned as president of the grand old party, but might still be calling the shots.
In the note signed by INC General Secretary KC Venugopal , Congress announced the appointment of Balasaheb Thorat as the new president of its Maharashtra state unit. Along with him Congress also announced the appointment of five working presidents Nitin Raut, Baswaraj M Patil, Vishwajeet Kadam, Yashomati Chandrakant Thakur and Muzaffer Hussain in the note which read “the Hon’ble Congress President has approved the proposal” without naming Rahul Gandhi. However more than the new appointees what caught the eye of the observers was that the appointments were made with the approval of a Congress president, despite the fact that the seat of party president should lie vacant given that Rahul Gandhi has resigned, with emphatic terms.
Congress’s ‘ghost’ President is making various appointments! Be scared, very scared. pic.twitter.com/d2cyTs2Ia6
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) July 13, 2019
As the lopsided claims around the leadership of INC continue, the press note mentions the ‘approval of Congress president’ however does not mention Rahul Gandhi’s name or the name of anyone else who may have been appointed as the President ever since Rahul Gandhi had put out his 4 page long resignation letter regarding his departure from the top post. This 4-page resignation letter was being seen as a conclusive announcement of him leaving the top post after the Congress Working Committee (CWC) had earlier rejected his resignation call. Also Rahul Gandhi had updated his twitter bio according to the new developments.
Rahul Gandhi, after leading INC into a devastating defeat in the 2019 general elections, had posted the four page resignation on micro blogging platform twitter and said “It is an honor for me to serve the Congress Party, whose values and ideals have served as the lifeblood of our beautiful nation. I owe the country and my organization a debt of tremendous gratitude and love. Jai Hind”
It is an honour for me to serve the Congress Party, whose values and ideals have served as the lifeblood of our beautiful nation.
I owe the country and my organisation a debt of tremendous gratitude and love.
Jai Hind ?? pic.twitter.com/WWGYt5YG4V
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 3, 2019
Navjot Singh Sidhu also mentioned “Congress President” in his tweet announcing his resignation letter. Curiously enough, Navjot Singh Sidhu refers to Rahul Gandhi as ‘Congress President’, adding more confusion to the whole drama. INC’s organization taking such important decisions without a clear stakeholder is just another indication of the mysterious and opaque functioning of the party. While speculations continue, what many are calling the ‘ghost president’ continues to make important appointments across Congress party organizational structures.
However, for the grand old party, the leadership crisis goes deeper than the question of Rahul Gandhi. Over decades organizational structure of INC has been systematically transformed from a cadre based party to 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 Congress Working Committee. After Rahul Gandhi resigned, 90-year-old Motilal Vora, a Gandhi family loyalist was offered to be interim president but he refused. It is unknown who is calling the shots in the party at this crucial juncture and the lack of transparency in the party reflects that the Gandhi-Vadra family may still be at the helm of affairs. Full of Gandhi-Nehru-Vadra family loyalists, CWC of the party has been notorious for taking unilateral decisions based on the whims and fancies of Gandhi-Nehru family. While the ambiguity over the party president continues, the grand old party continues to function in a mysterious manner without clarity or democracy within the party.