New Delhi | Uncertainty stares at the Congress with Rahul Gandhi quitting as president of the party which is struggling to get back on its feet following two successive Lok Sabha election defeats.
With assembly elections to states like Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Delhi approaching, many in the party feel the Congress has been thrust in a “blind spot” due to the leadership crisis.
Political commentators, however, say the step will augur well for the grand old party that needs to reinvent itself and present a clear vision before the public to again emerge as a credible alternative.
The Congress party’s future would be chalked out at the meeting of the Congress Working Committee, the highest decision making body of the party, which is likely to meet early next week.
The names of senior Congress leaders Sushilkumar Shinde, Mallikarjun Kharge, Ashok Gehlot and Motilal Vora were doing the rounds as possible candidates for the party president’s post, but a decision would be made only after the meeting of the CWC.
“The Congress faces an existential crisis in the absence of clear leadership and such a situation does not bode well for the party which faces assembly elections in three states just a few months later,” said a party leader.
Another veteran Congress leader said the party can remain united only under the Gandhi family umbrella and if anyone outside the family leads the party, it would increase dissensions.
Political commentator Sushila Ramaswamy, who teaches in Delhi University, said the Congress party should come out of the Gandhi family’s shadow.
“To think that without the Gandhi family, the party cannot hold ground is unacceptable. Everyone has the right to go to the top and it seemed that the Congress was currently under monarchic rule. All this is bad and does not augur well for the oldest political party in the country,” she said.
Director Sanjay Kumar of CSDS said it is not fair to think that the Congress will face a crisis if the party president is not from the Gandhi family.
“The party might get a new form with his resignation. He should continue to remain active in the party, which will help him emerge as a popular leader in future.
“It is hoped that the Congress accepts the new leader who might give new shape to the party’s future,” he said.
However, Ramaswamy said the entire Gandhi family should step aside and bring in new leadership
“People get fed up of seeing the same faces in a democracy and alternatives need to be given just as in other evolved democracies in the world,” she said.
She also lauded Rahul Gandhi for taking the initiative and allowing the party to reinvent itself.
“Nothing lasts forever, let it reinvent itself. It is not acceptable in a true democratic set up. The party will have to invent itself if it has to come up as an alternative.
“They should realise that coalitions have been rejected by the electorate in the country and a party should have a clear vision and leadership for it to emerge as a credible alternative to the ruling party. This will also help to keep the ruling party in check,” Ramaswamy said.
She said the Congress should show that it is better than the ruling party to emerge as a credible alternative.
“In fact, even Sonia Gandhi should step down as leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party and pave the space for somebody else to take over. The entire Gandhi family should step aside and bring in new leadership,” she said.
The political analyst said the Congress party should have reinvented itself periodically, but it has not happened.
It is late, but should be done, she said and added Rahul Gandhi should be given credit by the party that he has “seen the writing on the wall and stepped aside”.