50 days on, Congress yet to find successor to Rahul Gandhi
(Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP)

New Delhi: Nearly 50 days after Rahul Gandhi stepped down as Congress president, taking moral responsibility for the humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, the grand old party is yet to finalise a new chief.

Gandhi, now an MP from Wayanad in Kerala, became the Congress president in 2017. He offered to step down from his post at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on May 25, taking moral responsibility for the party's drubbing in the 17th Lok Sabha elections. In these 50 days that went by, not only has Gandhi made his resignation public but also removed the tag of "Congress President" from the bio of his official Twitter handle. The Congress, who has presently become a "leaderless" party, has also been facing multiple shocks at the state levels.

Currently, the ongoing crisis in Karnataka has become a major cause of concern for Congress, which is leaving no stone unturned to save its government in the state. According to the Congress' constitution, the CWC has the right to elect Rahul Gandhi's successor as the new party president. However, the senior leaders are yet to announce it. As per sources, senior leaders of the party are squabbling over possible names. In this regard, senior leaders convened two meetings in the Congress War Room, but, only Karnataka politics was discussed.

One of the possible reasons behind the delay in the selection of Congress president is that the party's general secretary KC Venugopal is currently busy in solving the ongoing Karnataka crisis and is camped in Bengaluru. It is believed that the way to the CWC meeting will open only after a resolution to the Karnataka issue. Despite offering his resignation, Gandhi has met the leaders of electoral states. In Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, the party's new state chief was also appointed.

A dozen disgruntled Congress MLAs in Karnataka have resigned and reached the Supreme Court against the state speaker. Similarly, two-thirds of the MLAs in Telangana and Goa have also changed sides. Meanwhile, things have apparently worsened between Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) chief Sheila Dikshit and in-charge PC Chacko. While Chacko is defying the decisions taken by Dikhsit, the three executive leaders and a large section of the Delhi Congress are accusing the DPCC chief of arbitrariness.

Similarly, in Haryana, an election committee created by party's state president Ashok Tanwar was cancelled by in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad. In Maharashtra, the Congress recently announced Balasaheb Thorat as party's state president instead of Ashok Chavan. However, a cold war is allegedly on between party leaders Milind Deora and Sanjay Nirupam with the latter taking a jibe at Deora when he talked about his resignation as Mumbai unit party chief.

During a review meeting of general results in Jharkhand, party's state president Ajay Kumar and in-charge RPN Singh faced flak from workers. Gandhi met leaders from different states but so far he has not met leaders from Jharkhand. However, in the state, Congress is more dependent on Jharkhand Mukti Morcha. In Punjab, Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu has tendered his resignation from the state Cabinet after his tussle with Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh over his post reshuffling and many other reasons in the past. However, a faction supporting the chief minister has termed Sidhu's decision to resign as "drama".

An apparent cold war is also being witnessed in Congress-ruled Rajasthan between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his Deputy Sachin Pilot. In Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, a race is underway for the party's state president. In total, the survival chances of Congress in its ruled state is becoming difficult day by day since the announcement of 2019 general elections results. The delay in the search of the president has also raised questions from within the party. Senior leaders like Karan Singh had to make comments like the CWC meeting soon should be convened to announce the Congress chief.

One of the senior members from the CWC said that as per his opinion, Rahul Gandhi is not an option. There is a dilemma between the leaders in the party's young face versus organisational experience. Captain Amarinder Singh has proposed that a young person should be the party president. However, other senior party leaders said they want to place an experienced person on the chairmanship of the chair.

Many protests and scores of resignations have also come to the fore to stop Rahul Gandhi from resigning. All the Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled states met Gandhi in Delhi to advice him to reconsider his decision to resign but of no avail. The Congress won 52 seats in the recent general elections, which is just eight more than its 2014 Lok Sabha results.

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