Mumbai: With the Congress Working Committee unanimously passing a resolution urging Sonia Gandhi to continue as interim president, especially during the pandemic, the grand old party is back to status quo.
However, until the time of the next All India Congress Committee session for the election of a new president, party insiders say Rahul Gandhi, may seek to emulate the late CPM veteran Harkishan Singh Surjeet, the consensus-builder who strived to unite the anti-BJP coalition of secular forces, the faction-ridden Congress party and also, the fragmented opposition, to forge an anti-BJP front.
Although Rahul, who lacks seniority, experience and is known for his eccentric behaviour, cannot replace Surjeet, he may use this time to emerge as sutradhar' for his party and the opposition, both of which incidentally, are clueless when it comes to taking on the behemoth BJP. However, neither do the likes of Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerjee, Lalu Prasad Yadav or Sitaram Yechury take Rahul seriously nor are they eager to unite with him until the time he propagates collective leadership through consensus.
A veteran MP, who has been a Gandhi family loyalist, drew a parallel between Sonia Gandhi, a consensus-builder, and Rahul, who believes in pursuing his own agenda aggressively. Sonia Gandhi reached out to secular and like-minded parties and brought the Congress to power in 2004.
She continued to maintain cordial relations with them. Surjeet made a significant contribution to the formation of the United Progressive Alliance government, as he was able to bring on board the Left parties for outside support. "However, Rahul, in a bid to nurture his own brigade, dumped senior and veteran leaders from the party and also failed to develop long-lasting relations with non-BJP parties. Sonia Gandhi never criticised opponents by name but she largely criticises policies. However, Rahul’s 'chowkidar chor hai' and personal attacks against PM Modi in particular, did not go down well in Congress and nor did like-minded parties approve. So as sutradhar, Rahul will have to tread cautiously, to put up a show of unity within the Congress and also with other secular parties,’’ he added.
On the other hand, the former CM said Rahul would have to become more open and accessible and would have to quit his centralised way of functioning. "Sonia Gandhi's style is to always take everyone along, while Rahul is happy with his own brigade. Even if in response to the comeback campaign, Rahul once again takes the reigns of the party, he will have to show the never-say-die-spirit of Surjeet, not just to revive the Congress party, but to also forge a grand anti-BJP alliance ahead of the 2024 general elections,’’ he noted. Despite being hurt by the letter bomb from party colleagues, Sonia Gandhi has said to let bygones be bygones; Rahul too, will have to become more accommodative to retrieve the party’s glory and evolve into a trusted leader, for like-minded parties.