CONGRESS … Rahul remains stay put in London; Congressmen humming and hawing over future of the grand old party

Image courtesy …NDTV Com

NEWS RAHUL CONGRESS

NEW DELHI: An air of uncertainty keeps enveloping the Congress party at its apex, with Congress president Rahul Gandhi remaining away from India and refusing to change his position that he would not lead the Congress party. Rahul Gandhi is reportedly vacationing in London, or near-about there, and the party is sort of rudderless at the moment. 

Several options are being contemplated at the AICC headquarters, with Sonia Gandhi in the background. Sonia Gandhi has ruled out becoming the party chief again; she is hoping against hope that Rahul Gandhi would change his mind. She knows well that she has a serious image problem after the eruption of scams in the UPA II period. She is also not in good health.

An option is to bring Priyanka Gandhi to the forefront in case Rahul Gandhi sticks to his decision. She is not averse the to idea as per talk in top Congress circles. But, no one believes she can be a match to, or measure up to, the aggressiveness of  Prime Minister Narendra Modi or his second in command, Amit Shah at the organisational level. Shah would continue holding the BJP president post even as he handles the Home ministry. 

A third option being contemplated is to bring Working Committee member and Sonia confidant AK Antony to the forefront. While Sonia Gandhi might favour this, there is strong reservations over such a step among many senior leaders. He being a Christian cannot be trusted to ably take on the hardcore Hindutva brigade; something which Priyanka Gandhi could do better even though she is married into a Christian family. At one time, Sonia Gandhi was a fait accompli for the leadership of the party. The party carried on unitedly under her, but faced severe odds towards the end of the UPA-II period. 

India has come a long way away from the scenario existed under the UPA periods. PM Modi has gained major acceptability across India, except for some southern states, where too there is a considerable segment of Modi fans. 

Another proposal is to have a collective leadership, with some rubber stamp being projected as Congress president and Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi working from behind to boost the party’s organisational and electoral prospects.However, not many are enthused at the idea and feel this will not work. They feel there has to be a central command and control system.

Meanwhile, sections of the Maharashtra-based NCP are favouring a merger with the Congress and hope that Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar can guide the party back to a strong position. For one, age is not in Pawar’s favour. He is 78 and not in good health. He is more upset this time, as a family member has been defeated in the LS polls in his own turf. For another, his NCP has a tag of being a very corrupt political entity. Those whom Pawar kept on his side proved to be outright looters of public money. Pawar himself crafted an empire out of his once-moderately wealthy family. His claim to being in circulation now is his close “connections” with several Opposition figures. More importantly, he had raised a banner of revolt against Sonia Gandhi in the past, and lost out. Then he formed the NCP. His first attempt, again, would be to outwit the Nehru family. 

Some Congress leaders feel this is still not time to lose hope. Assembly polls are to take place later this year in Maharashtra, followed by polls in Haryana, Delhi, Jharkhand etc. If the Congress fares better in these polls, which is quite likely in some states at least, it would be a major boost to the sunk morale of the party’s rank and file. It is also likely that a united Opposition would face these polls, rather than remaining divided as was the case in the LS polls, which proved to be beneficial to the BJP and PM Modi. 

Rahul Gandhi is expected back here before the start of the Parliament session on Monday. He will have to participate in the swearing in process on the first day of the session. A Congress leader said Rahul Gandhi was simply having a vacationing after the hectic poll campaign, and he would feel fresh by the time he returns here for the Parliament session, to ably take on PM Modi and the ruling side. IHN-NN

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