YES TO OUTSIDER AS PREZ .. Priyanka Gandhi says she too will accept a non-Nehru as Congress party’s new president

NEW DELHI: Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi has backed the stand of her brother Rahul Gandhi that the party should have a non-Nehru-Gandhi as its president. Rahul Gandhi had said this after the severe drubbing the party got in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, in which he as Congress president led the party from the front.

She stated so in an interview for a new book, INDIA TOMORROW, set for release soon. 

Their mother and former party president Sonia Gandhi had eventually taken up the party president post Rahul Gandhi discarded after the polls, in July, and she is functioning as interim president for the party since August 10 last year for a one-year term, which has ended. Her health is failing, in recent years, and does not want to shoulder the responsibility, though she remains as the chief of the UPA alliance.

In recent weeks, there have been calls from some Congress leaders that the party should soon have a functional full-time president. Prominent MP, Shashi Tharoor, has said if Rahul Gandhi does not want to take up the president post again, an election be held to select a leader.

However, no one thinks the Nehru family, currently led by Sonia and her son and daughter, would step aside from the limelight — the oxygen for their very existence. In the 1990s, the party had installed Sitaram Kesari as its president, but he was too weak and the selection of him was only to prove a point that those other than the Nehru clan could run the party effectively. After this, Sonia Gandhi emerged from the shadows, and took over as party president. She also selected prime ministers — previously Narasimha Rao, and later Manmohan Singh — and ran governments from behind. 

The problem with the party is also that there is no credible leader, other than for the faceless sycophants, power-seekers and greedy and corrupt politicos, with the exception of Shashi Tharoor, who maintains a halo about him. He maintains a high aura, despite the hit he took in the death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar in a hotel room a few years ago. However, someone with an individuality of his own might not be acceptable to the Nehru family. 

Question, though, is how the Hindi belt will warm up to the English-speaking, high-profile former UN functionary-turned politician; “perhaps the same way as India accepted Jawaharlal Nehru,” some say.  Shashi Tharoor would rather like to be the CLP leader in Parliament. 

The massive expose of corruption in the UPA governments by Congressmen and also ministers of the allies like the NCP and DMK, led to the overthrow of the Congress from power in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Narendra Modi, who led the Opposition BJP campaign from the front as PM nominee, fought the battle by raising the issue of corruption, and won a landslide victory for the NDA in 2014; which he got repeated in the 2019 polls as well. 

The present thinking in the party is to project Priyanka Gandhi as the future CM choice in the upcoming UP assembly polls. She had already led the party campaign in the last LS polls in eastern Uttar Pradesh, where the Congress however could not make much of an impact. Worse, brother Rahul Gandhi was defeated in Amethi, in the region. IHN-NN


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