Satwant Singh Rissam
Rahul Gandhi has made it clear that he will not be the president of the Congress party. This came as a result of the defeat in 2019 Lok Sabha polls and because of the statements of the most of the political analysts that Congress, after this defeat, should be run by a non-Gandhi. Since then names of many junior and senior leaders are doing rounds as new president of the Congress party. No doubt that many senior leaders like Sushil Kumar Shinde and Mallikarjun Kharge have leadership abilities but in this situation the Congress party needs the services of another Gandhi to bring the party out of this political turmoil. The experiment of having a non-Gandhi Congress president has been tried in the past. And the results were hardly encouraging because Congress witnessed desertion of many leaders. The big leaders like Arjun Singh, ND Tiwari and Madhavrao Scindia formed parallel political wings against the Congress. If again a non Gandhi is appointed the president then the new entrant on the post will face dual crisis. Firstly, he/she has to ensure that there is no desertion of big leaders from the party and secondly, to rebuild the party structure across country.
Presently, Congress faces factionalism in most state units and with BJP being run by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the risk of losing more leaders to BJP is wide open. Adding to it is the reason that all the Congress leaders are just thinking of their own political survival. After the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, roles between BJP and Congress have reversed. BJP is ruling at the centre and 16 states across the country whereas Congress base has shrunk since 2014. In such prevailing political circumstances, a non-Gandhi president can lead to further factionalism and desertion of many leaders from the party. In this case, Priyanka Gandhi appears to be the best option to ensure cohesiveness among the top leadership. In general public also her perception is significantly better than Rahul’s image of being a reluctant politician.
After the death of J. Jayalalithaa , a powerful chief minister in the Tamil Nadu, her party AIADMK lost political ground even after having a strong presence among masses .The AIADMK lost ground in absence of a leader who could act as bond between party leaders and cadre. So what would happen to the Congress party which has already lost in most of India? The challenge for the Congress is to stop this rapid decline and only a Gandhi can help resolve serious differences which are sure to rise as time passes. Now after two defeats of Congress in Lok Sabha elections, BJP’s objective to have a “Congress-mukt Bharat” is taking shape of “Gandhi-mukt Congress”. With key assembly polls in Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Delhi and Bihar over the next one year, the challenge for Congress party is not just to put its house in order but also to stand up to a stronger BJP. The way things are going for the Congress, the party may soon enter an existential crisis. The death of the Congress from political circles would remove national opposition to BJP and that won’t be a good sign for the democracy and democratic institutions of the country. However, with fall of the Congress, regional leaders and regional parties in Indian politics would make a comeback.
Satwant Singh Rissam