Rahul Gandhi will need the support of young blood as well as veterans to tackle Modi-Shah in 2019

Goa Congress president Shantaram Naik resigned from his post, saying he was "inspired" by Rahul Gandhi's speech at the party plenary about making way for younger leaders. Naik, 71, is the first senior Congress leader to resign after Rahul announced on Sunday in his concluding speech that he wants to give the younger generation a chance to come forward and lead the party.

Will Telangana Congress leaders also follow the path laid by Naik on the call of the party chief? Senior party leaders in the state include Jaipal Reddy (76), Ponnalla Lakshmaiah (74), Jana Reddy (71), Geeta Reddy ( 71), Shashidhar Reddy (73) and T Subbirami Reddy (74).

File image of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

File image of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Political pundits believe that the senior leaders will continue to hold the fort in Telangana as the party is pushed to a corner by the Telangana Rashtra Samiti. The Congress could not cash in on the division of the state by the UPA government led by Manmohan Singh. It was K Chandrashekhar Rao who took the cake and ate it too. At present, the TRS is a formidable force with minimal anti-incumbency factor working against it. The Congress took up a bus yatra and covered five undivided districts in the first phase highlighting government failures. The response was lukewarm and not something to boost the morale of the Congress.

It will take a miracle or something very foolish on the part of the TRS to lose its hold and grip on state affairs. The Congress is banking on the young leader in the form of Rahul to take on Narendra Modi Modi in Delhi and KCR in Hyderabad.

#ChangeIsNow, the Congress party's slogan is yet to catch up in Telangana. Veteran leaders are in a dilemma on whether it's a government change or a change in the members of the organisation that is required. They will now also be worried about their respective seats.

The move to give way to young blood in Congress is not new. In 1963, Kamaraj proposed to then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru that all senior Congress leaders holding ministerial office resign and take up party work. Nehru understood the motive behind Kamaraj's suggestion as the leaders were distancing themselves from the people, and himself offered to put in his papers. But Kamaraj disagreed and said, "No Panditji, you are very important, and people need you. Do not quit as the prime minister."

Following the conversation, six Union ministers and six chief ministers including Kamaraj resigned. The other ministers who resigned were Lal Bahadur Shastri, Jagjivan Ram and Morarji Desai.
This move helped Kamaraj to become party president and revive the dispirited party. He reinforced vishvas (belief) in the people, and that helped the Congress to become more robust. It is time for the Congress to take a solid stand and fight strong opponents and the negative campaign of Congress-mukt Bharat.

When the debate was raised, a senior and veteran Congress leader in Telangana said that 1962-63 was different. Today, the party is not in power but engaged in organisational work. As a result, he didn't see the need for veterans to make way for youth. He, however, added that in case they make way there is a contingency plan to ensure their family members alone get their place in the party.

There are voices of support for Rahul. Ever since the Gujarat election, people have stopped calling him 'Pappu' and social media is not as negative towards him anymore. He is showing positive signs of being able to take on the forces of Modi and Amit Shah in the 2019 General Election. But the support of his veteran leaders in the political war will be crucial.

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Updated Date: Mar 21, 2018 11:53:40 IST

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