The Indian National Congress is the oldest political party in India. It is also a party of crises. In fact, the party has become synonymous with firefighting internal tussles. Instead of trying to defeat the BJP, the Congress’ entire focus is to keep its burning house in order – thus disallowing it to even think of winning elections. The party is merely trying to survive – and it is not easy. In August, Sonia Gandhi will be completing two years in office as interim Congress president. However, the tenure of an interim Congress chief cannot be more than one year. Yet, there is always an exception for the Gandhis.
Sonia Gandhi is now feeling embarrassed, and she is also not in the prime of her health. As such, she is said to have declared that she will not be continuing as interim chief for even one day after August 10. In such a crisis situation, the Congress could be left without a leader. Rahul Gandhi is unwilling to become the party president, and is reportedly pushing for a non-Gandhi to take the reins. Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath is the top contender for the post, and a recent meeting between him and Sonia Gandhi fuelled speculation that he will be made the president.
According to an ABP News report, Kamal Nath was indeed offered the top post, which the man has declined. Kamal Nath has refused to leave Madhya Pradesh and play a role at the Centre. According to sources, Kamal Nath was offered a bigger role at the Centre by the Congress leadership and from here there were speculations that he would be made the working president of the party.
According to sources of ABP News, Kamal Nath has told the central leadership that he does not want to leave Madhya Pradesh. However, he has assured the Gandhis that whenever they need him in any state, or even in Delhi, he shall always be present. The post of Congress president, though, is not acceptable to him.
Speaking to NDTV, Kamal Nath said, “Talk about my becoming Congress president is rubbish. I keep meeting Mrs Gandhi and keep discussing various issues related to the party.”
The reality is that nobody wants to end their political career on a low note of the Congress presidentship. While the Gandhis may be pushing for a non-Gandhi president, they actually want a puppet installed on the position. What the trio of Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka need is a yes-man as Congress president. Who better a puppet than Kamal Nath – an eternal Gandhi loyalist since the times of Indira and Sanjay Gandhi?
With the title of the Congress president comes the astronomical weight of election defeats, political setbacks apart from national and state-level embarrassments. Congress presidents must manoeuvre the party from one election defeat to the other. They must preside over as the party and members of the Gandhi family make grand fools of themselves. Congress has become a non-performing asset, and nobody wants to lead an NPA.
Kamal Nath has already not been able to move past the embarrassment caused to him last year, when his government in Madhya Pradesh collapsed unceremoniously after Jyotiraditya Scindia and his faction joined the BJP. That has perhaps been the lowest point in politics Kamal Nath has had to face.
Kamal Nath, like many other senior leaders, does not want any more upsets in his political career. And the post of a Congress president, for a non-Gandhi like him promises just that. It is, therefore, no surprise that he has declined the generous offer of the Gandhis.