Congress dilemma with the Gandhis is unending and so its woes

Gandhi or no Gandhi – this seems to be the biggest challenge for Congress party. In either case, the challenge looks big.

Written by June 26, 2019 15:20

Congress President Rahul Gandhi, adamant on quitting as the party chief after the 2019 election debacle, again conveyed his decision to the top party leadership today. At a meeting called by Sonia Gandhi, the Chairperson of Congress Parliamentary party, stalwarts like Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari persuaded Rahul to continue as the party chief but the Gandhi made it loud and clear that he has made up his mind to abdicate the responsibility.

Earlier on May 25, Rahul Gandhi, at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting offered to quit as the party chief. The CWC unanimously rejected the offer but Rahul has remained firm on his stand. However, on the insistence of senior colleagues, Rahul agreed to hold the post for few days/weeks.

Once a formidable tag, now a liability

Gandhi – the mere surname, which was enough to woo the electorate, is proving to its own undoing. For two successive Lok Sabha elections, Congress has been pushed to the margins with its numbers being restricted to double digits only. Never before in India’s history, Congress has faced such humiliating and ignominious defeat.

In 2019 General elections, Congress managed to win only 52 Lok Sabha constituencies. The party didn’t win even a single seat in 18 states and Union territories.

The consecutive disastrous electoral drubbing is not just a wake-up call but it also signifies tough times for the Congress party. For the second time in a row, Congress has failed to claim the leader of Opposition.

Moreover, its state governments in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab. Factional fights have broken out among party office-bearers in these states while Maharashtra and Telangana units have witnessed major desertions. Reason behind is obvious – lack of clear, decisive leadership. If the party can’t imbibe confidence among its cadre, such situation is only going to amplify. If it continues, the party in near future may be staring at ‘splinter and fracture’.

Congress falling apart under Rahul Gandhi ?

Despite the high-pitched campaign in 2019 elections, Rahul Gandhi failed to influence the electorate and led the party to its yet another worse poll defeat.

After the disastrous poll drubbing, the behavior of Congress president has been baffling his own partymen. At first, he refused to meet Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh chief ministers, who came to Delhi to pay him a visit. Then, at the CWC meet, he not only announced to give up his role of the party chief but also sought to put a bar on any member of the Gandhi family to hold the baton.

Despite several rounds of persuasion and cajoling, Rahul has expressed his desire to give up his role as Congress chief but on the insistence of some senior leaders, has managed to stay on for some time. But, till when? If the party president remains a recluse and continues to dither over every issue, how will the party shape up its growth trajectory?

Many Congressmen can’t even think of Congress beyond Gandhi. However, some congressmen believe the party could survive even under a non-Gandhi president as it happened during Narasimha Rao. Leaders were deserting the party in droves, still it was contained.

Gandhi or no Gandhi – this seems to be the biggest challenge for Congress party. In either case, the challenge looks big. With Rahul Gandhi as the leader, the party failed to strike a chord with the public. In fact, in the next elections, he may not have the required talent or political skill to craft a comeback.

Again, with no Gandhi at the helm, the party may drift apart and may not have a consensual face to rally the party behind. Several factions may crop up within the party and eventually it may be difficult to contain the decline of party. Therefore, despite his personal failings, Rahul Gandhi continues to be the glue that holds it together.

Therefore, Congress constantly seems to be in a state of conundrum over the Gandhi tag. A surname which made the party rule the nation for six decades is turning out to be its biggest enemy.