Why Congress is failing to look beyond the ‘Gandhi’ for leadership?

Rahul Gandhi resigned as Congress president on 25th of May 2019.

After he stepped down as Congress chief, the party has failed to find his successor even as  leadership crisis is hurting the party badly.

Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was one of the potential candidates for the party post had openly expressed hid frustration over delay on deciding party president by CWC (Congress working committee)

The, leaders in the congress party wants revival of the party but they think that only a Gandhi can do that job. But Rahul Gandhi was adamant on a non-Gandhi Congress president. He wanted to fix the failure of 2019 General elections on  to these senior leaders.

Sushil Kumar Shinde and Mallikarjuna Kharge’s name made rounds for a few days.

In any case, both these leaders were not acceptable to the younger lot. Kharge turns 77, while Shinde will be 78 this October. Those close to Rahul Gandhi have been batting for a younger leader as a Congress president citing the restructuring done by the BJP in its organisation over the past five years.

The leaders who are being suggested by the CWC were in an age group which the BJP  has reserved for margdarshak mandal (virtual retirement). At least two senior Congress leaders, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and former Union minister Karan Singh had said the party should elect a young leader as its president.

Besides Scindia, Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and former Mumbai Congress president Milind Deora were said to be leading the race among the younger lot in the party. Posters supporting Scindia’s candidature had come up last during his visit to Bhopal.

Pilot and Ashok Gehlot, the Rajasthan chief minister, are engaged in a bitter intra-party rivalry. With Gehlot not ready to resign despite Rahul Gandhi directly taking his name while talking about Lok Sabha election loss, Pilot was being seen as a strong candidate for the top job in the Congress.

But there is problem for these youngsters to come up-Three Gandhi power centres

After Priyanka Gandhi’s entry into active politics, there are three Gandhis as power centres in the Congress.

Things were different when Sonia Gandhi was the president and the Congress was in power. Ahmed Patel, the most powerful among senior leaders, and he was the key person for routing everything to Sonia Gandhi.

Murmurs were  that any new president would have to seek approval for everything from all three Gandhis at a time when their primary focus would be rejuvenating the 133-year-old party. None seemed to be willing for this kind of an arrangement if they ultimately have to give it back to a Gandhi again in a few years’ time.

Amidst all these confusions and inter party competitions were going on, the centre brought a bill on a losing article 370 to the floor. It was a litmus test for congress leaders. When majority of the leaders shamelessly supported article 370,few young leaders like Jyotiradithya Scindia came out in support of its abragation.

It was sure at that moment, he would be miss out on any opportunity(if he had any) to become president of congress party.

And a 100 year old party fell again to the laps of its gandhi power centre-Sonia Gandhi has been elected as interim president.

One of the obvious reasons for the CWC’s failure to find a successor to Rahul is that no leader can possibly agree to another becoming chief and no faction can allow another to ‘dominate’

BJP has set an example as its leaders grow in the party naturally, while the Congress is unable to move beyond a family.

dynasty politics was rejected in the last general elections, but the Congress party leaders did not learn from it.

the reason for Rahul’s abstention from party affairs is an attempt to evade responsibility. It doeesnt mean he doesn’t want to pursue power.

Rahul can hardly jib at this stage, since his mother did agree to take charge, however unwillingly.

The outgoing president, Rahul Gandhi had “disqualified” two party leaders — mother Sonia Gandhi and sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra — from the party top job. But surprisingly just before the last CWC where the interim president announcement was made, Rahul gandhi who had kept himself away from party dynamics interfered with an idea to take opinion all the party leaders from different state in electing president. And they elected Sonia Gandhi. Is it not evident what he was suggesting?

The party is in total disarray and they are looking up on the most powerful of the three gandhis to hold it together.

All this means that Sonia Gandhi will, in all likelihood, remain president for quite a few years. Whether the Congress will genuinely be able to elect a president after that, is the question.

The Congress should choose a leader through a democratic process and if it fails to do so, no one can save the party.

Dr Sindhu Prashanth