RAHUL GANDHI will have to activate the party organisation which is no mean task and becoming Congress president is not going to bring about a transformation. The party needs radical, far reaching changes for winning the confidence of the people at large.
The moment of reckoning appears to be round the corner for the Nehru-Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi taking over as the President of the Congress party. The biggest challenge for the 47-year-old lies in galvanising the “Old Lady of Bori Bunder” which is in the dumps.
Having been in the forefront of the struggle for Independence, the Congress has lost its verve and zip. On the other hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in the vanguard of the BJP continuing to win major assembly elections including Uttar Pradesh with a stunning three-fourths majority.
A cursory look at the India map shows large parts of the country being ruled by the saffron brigade. The BJP’s two failures initially were Delhi and Bihar, a battleground state in the Hindi heartland. However, the BJP is back in power in Patna having worked out a coalition arrangement with chief minister Nitish Kumar of the JD (U) bidding adieu to the “mahagatbandhan” and parting ways with the RJD.
After losing the 2014 Lok Sabha elections with its lowest ever tally of 44 seats, the Congress failed to garner even one-tenth of the seats in the 543-member lok Sabha thereby losing the right of becoming the leader of the opposition.
Nevertheless, the Congress remains the largest party in the opposition and Modi’s efforts in striving for a “Congress mukt Bharat” is nowhere near fruition. With the organisational elections in the Congress party expected to be completed by October 31, the schedule for the election of party President is to be announced.
Lok Sabha MP Mulapally Ramachandran, who heads the party’s central election authority, is scheduled to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi soon is this regard.
Rahul Gandhi has steered clear of becoming a minister in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Congress led UPA government preferring handling the party organisation for an extended period before becoming its numero uno. His mother Sonia Gandhi has been the longest serving Congress president for nearly 19 years.
The Congress has been squeezed out politically with its government in only five states compared to the 14 ruled by the BJP.
It may be recalled that former Congress chief Sitaram Kesri was ousted by the Congress Working Committee, the highest decision making body in the 132-year-old party and replaced by Sonia Gandhi.
The decline of the Congress over the last three-and-a- half years and more has been sharp as it has failed to take up the challenge posed by Modi. This is also on account of intense factionalism.
The party has also been suffering from not having mass leaders in the states because of the overbearing attitude of the Congress High Command over the years.
The question is whether Rahul Gandhi as the Congress president has it in him to pep up and infuse confidence among the rank and file of the party leading to a turnaround in its electoral fortunes.
Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Modi’s home state of Gujarat are round the corner. Needless to say Modi cannot afford to lose Gujarat and suffer a setback.
Rahul Gandhi will have to activate the party organisation which is no mean task and becoming Congress president is not going to bring about a transformation. The party needs radical, far reaching changes for winning the confidence of the people at large.
Even as the detractors of Rahul Gandhi at the AICC headquarters in the national capital believe making him Congress president will be disastrous, others exude confidence that he will emerge as a formidable leader.
Senior party leaders maintain “the widespread opinion in the party is that Rahul Gandhi should be made the president at the earliest. This will afford him direly needed space and time to prepare for the 2019 general elections”.
This might well be the last chance for Rahul Gandhi who has been targetted for attack by the BJP leaders.
Having being at the helm of affairs of the country for more than five decades, the Congress desperately needs to enlarge its space which has become highly constricted over the last 42 months since the Modi government assumed power in May 2014.
Can Rahul Gandhi prove the shennanigans of doom wrong and live up to the challenge staring him in the face!
The writer is a senior journalist and commentator.