Rahul Gandhi finally looks all set to become Congress president. Congress Working Committee (CWC) met on Monday and urged the party vice-president to take the top job. Although, the current president Sonia Gandhi has to give her nod of approval for Rahul to take over as the party president, the CWC — highest decision-making body of Congress — wants Rahul to fight against "communal" and "dictatorial" Narendra Modi.
Senior Congress leader, former Union defence minister and CWC member, AK Antony said that this was the first time that CWC unanimously, at the same time, urged Rahul to take over party presidentship. Speaking to the press, Antony said, "Number of party members expressed strong sentiments that Rahul Gandhi must take over the president-ship of the party. It is high time that Congress mobilise all its forces to fight against the dictatorial rule of the (Narendra) Modi government."
Randeep Singh Surjewala added that "tivra ichcha" (heightened desire) was expressed by CWC members in consonance with crores of Congress men and women across the country. But a pertinent question that begs to be asked here is do CWC members really think Rahul Gandhi has the leadership qualities to rejuvinate party members and halt Congress' downslide — especially with the crucial Uttar Pradesh Assembly election around the corner?
In four assembly elections that were held this year, Congress lost power in Assam and Kerala. The party fared poorly in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. In upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh, Congress does not even matter as a rival political force. But with the CWC members "urging" Rahul to take over the party president mantle, seems like all that matters to them is the continuance of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.
The proposal to anoint Rahul Gandhi was made by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. It was seconded by AK Antony and everyone else present in that meet. And we still do not know when will the promotion finally happen. When asked how seriously should the media consider the CWC recommendation, Antony emphasised on the words "strongly" and said that the "desire was unanimous." "Till today, it was only speculation," Antony told mediapersons after the CWC meet concluded. Last year, CWC had made similar demands but Rahul didn't take the mantle.
Those who are familiar with the functioning of CWC, will understand that no such recommendation could be officially made and told to the world through press conference by a senior most leader till such time all this had been pre-approved by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
But then there is a twist in the tale: First, the Congress party is asking the Election Commission for one year extension to complete its organisational elections. The deadline for the organisational election was to otherwise expire in December 2016. Antony, however, clarified that there was no connection between completion of organisational polls and Rahul Gandhi's elevation to party president post. He also clarified that CWC was competent as per the their Constitution to name party president at any time if so desired.
Second, Sonia Gandhi had strategically abstained herself from the CWC meeting. Reports said that she was unwell. Technically, if a similar recommendation was made in her presence it would have become a resolution and would have amounted to instant anointment of Rahul Gandhi as Congress president. Sonia has held the post of party chief for a record 18 years — since 1998 — a distinction, which even her famed family elders Jawaharlal Nehru and Indiara Gandhi haven't achieved.
"I am sure CWC's unanimous recommendation would get proper care and due attention by Congress president," Antony said. When asked whether the Congress would go to next round of Assembly polls in UP, Uttarakhand and Punjab with Rahul Gandhi officially at the helm, Antony said that is a "leading" question, "wait for announcement."
It all boils down to a simple situation that CWC has expressed: burning desire for crores of Congressmen and women, it is now onto mother Sonia Gandhi when would she like to step aside and anoint (formally nominate) her son, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi.