While Karnataka government totters and resignations fly in, Congress leadership busy choosing new president

In the past couple of days, ten Congress MLAs in Karnataka resigned, while two party MLAs in Gujarat openly cross-voted for the BJP's official candidates and then resigned. These incidents are symptomatic of the crisis that Rahul Gandhi has created through his resignation as party president.

 While Karnataka government totters and resignations fly in, Congress leadership busy choosing new president

Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi look on in the Lok Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament. PTI

All this comes at a time when the Congress should be introspecting and resolving to stay united for future battles against Narendra Modi and the BJP. However, not even the most influential leaders in the grand old party have a clue about the extent of the crisis and where it is headed.

In a situation like this, any responsible political party would be seized of the matter, and would try to arrest the situation. After all, in Karnataka, the Congress is part of a minority government whose existence is on the line, while in Gujarat, it claims to be a potent Opposition. The Congress-led governments in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan too stare at an uncertain future, and are faced with internal contradictions.

But the Congress' top leadership, popularly known as the high command, is completely oblivious to this. All it appears to have done is to put its concerns of an implosion on record by raising the issue in the Lok Sabha, and alleging poaching and horse-trading by the BJP. In response, it only got sarcastic remarks from the treasury benches. Defence minister Rajnath Singh’s quip that it was Rahul who acted as the catalyst in the current resignation spree in his party evoked laughter in the House.

The optics of Rahul sitting in the protective vicinity of his mother Sonia Gandhi and often being seen chatting with her in the front benches of the Lok Sabha are not helping the Congress’ cause. Since the constitution of the 17th Lok Sabha, Rahul has not spoken a word inside the House.

While the Congress is imploding in states where it currently rules or once had strong presence, the supposed high command of the party is occupied with more serious work — finding a non-Gandhi to be the new president of the party. Last week, Rahul Gandhi had said in his resignation letter: “Immediately after resigning, I suggested to my colleagues in the Congress Working Committee (CWC) that the way forward would be to entrust a group of people with the task of beginning the search for a new president. I have empowered them to do so and committed my full support to this process and a smooth transition.”

The strength of the CWC is 54 members, including permanent members and special invitees. Therefore, the organisation may be too big to handle the task smoothly. The problem gets compounded by the fact that all the members in the supposedly all-powerful CWC owe their positions to their loyalty to the Nehru-Gandhi family. They were either nominated by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. It may be difficult for them to consider the merits of a leader who takes an independent approach in future.

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The other problem is that no Gandhi family member has worked as a general secretary or in any other capacity in the organisation when it was led by a non-Gandhi, either as a titular head or otherwise. Presently, Priyanka Gandhi continues to be general secretary of the party. She has not resigned from the post, despite some other leaders in the organisation having been forced to follow the precedent set by Rahul’s Gandhi. It would be a tricky situation for a prospective non-Gandhi president to lead the Congress with Priyanka as his or her subordinate in the organisation, not to mention Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.

The names that are being considered for the party president's post are either failed veterans like Mallikarjun Kharge, Meira Kumar, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Motilal Vora, or are those of younger dynasts like Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot and Milind Deora, who either lost in their own constituencies or failed to make any impact as campaigners.

It may be relevant to recall that Rahul Gandhi, before the election results, had become a self-proclaimed face and body language reader, predicting doom for Narendra Modi. He had even said that a Congress-led government would send the prime minister to jail.

Follow live updates on the Karnataka political crisis here

Updated Date: Jul 08, 2019 20:35:20 IST