NEW DELHI: The Congress party, caught in the throes of a crisis, is faced with a rudderless situation after party president went into deep disappointment over the party’s poor show in the LS polls, and held out his resignation. Efforts were on Tuesday to persuade the Nehru family scion to hold on to the post, also on the ground that there is “no one outside the Nehru family” who can fit the bill now.
Indications however are that he is ready to take up the post of Leader of Congress Parliamentary Party, which was held by Mallikarjun Kharge, from Karnataka, in the last Lok Sabha. Two regional leaders — Lalu Prasad from Bihar and MK Stalin from Tamil Nadu (another dynast) — called up Rahul Gandhi to urge him to continue as Congress president.
Rahul Gandhi, who refused to attend calls from party leaders and remained in virtual isolation after the Congress Working Committee meet three days ago, however attended an event at Shantivan, to mark the death anniversary of his great grand father Jawaharlal Nehru. He refused to respond to persuasions from other party leaders, who attended the event, to change his mind.
On Tuesday morning, sister Priyanka Gandhi along with Rajasthan deputy PM Sachin Pilot and Congress party’s new spokesperson Ranjitsingh Surjewala went to Rahul Gandhi’s residence to discuss matters with the party chief. Expectations are that, after the initial sense of distress, he would agree to continue.
It was a complete washout for the Congress in 17 states in one of the most stunning defeats the party experience at a parliamentary polls. It won 52 seats thanks mainly to victories it managed in Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
An alternative before the party was to turn to what was thought till a while ago as the last hope for the Congress party, Priyanka Gandhi. That scenario no more exists. This is not because Rahul Gandhi openly ruled out such a step forward at the CWC meet (“Don’t bring my sister into the picture (of total hopelessness for the party).” More importantly, it is well-acknowledged that Priyanka proved to be a damp squib. Her brief was to lead the campaign for the party in eastern Uttar Pradesh, which she did. The result: the party won just one out of the 29 seats. Worse, Rahul Gandhi lost Amethi, what was the Indira family’s pocket borough in Eastern UP.
In Delhi too, where Priyanka campaigned and declared, “Delhi’s girl is coming to challenge you,” the BJP swept the polls.
As is well-known, the Nehru family acts as a glue for the Congress. It keeps partymen together, and ideology has little to do with the party now, it having been turned into a family enterprise by Indira Gandhi — who was first made party president by her father Jawaharlal Nehru in the 1950s. After her father’s demise, she held the portfolio of information minister and eventually captured control of the government and then divided the party to form a separate party and then claimed it was the real Congress. –IHN-NN