Thursday, February 2, 2023
HomeOpinionSonia Gandhi continuing is no surprise, Congress high command culture goes back...

Sonia Gandhi continuing is no surprise, Congress high command culture goes back over 50 yrs

In episode 557 of #CutTheClutter, Shekhar Gupta discusses how Congress has shown a lack of internal democracy repeatedly since Indira Gandhi in the 1960s.

Text Size:

New Delhi: Sonia Gandhi continues as Congress president, even after a letter demanding “full-time” and “active” leadership led to a stormy Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting. This culture of not accepting any inner party democracy in the Congress is not new, but is actually deeply entrenched, ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta said in episode 557 of Cut The Clutter.

“One of the reasons why nobody wants a change in leadership is because it’s very uncomfortable, very inconvenient. When you change leaders, then you have to anoint a new leader. So everybody thinks then I am an equal. Right? And if I’m not getting it, why should I submit to someone else’s power, because I know how powerful the president of the Congress party will be. So in that case, put up with whoever is there. This is why the Congress party has become status quoist in this situation,” Gupta said.

“A lot of the seniors in the Congress party are very impatient. This is because a lot of seniors think that the day Rahul (Gandhi) takes over as party president, they will be history, because he will get rid of all of them and build a completely new party of people that he likes. That is something like what even Rajiv Gandhi had done when he took over and got rid of a lot of Indira Gandhi’s confidants or sidelined them, even in the bureaucracy. That’s how the game of power is played,” he said.

Also read: Letter politics at CWC meet — who said what in Congress over leadership change

Indira Gandhi set the culture

In 1964, after Jawaharlal Nehru died, there was an open question — who should take over? So Morarji Desai, who for the longest time had been the person waiting to become prime minister threw his cap in the ring.

The party establishment’s preference was for Lal Bahadur Shastri to become the PM. K. Kamaraj, who was the big boss of the Congress party at the time, was able to manage the situation very skilfully, by calling every MP and asking him or her that “my choice is Lal Bahadur Shastri, do you have a better choice?” Most people said they were fine with the choice of Lal Bahadur Shastri, and that’s how Kamaraj averted that election.

In 1966, when Shastri passed away, once again a leadership tussle came up. And now the party establishment preferred Indira Gandhi. Once again, Morarji Desai chose to contest the elections. So an election did take place for prime minister, and Mrs Gandhi won by 355 votes compared to Morarji Desai’s 169 (the voters were all the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs of Congress).

Once she got that victory, Indira Gandhi finished internal democracy in the Congress party.

Importantly, in 2000, Jitendra Prasada, a Brahmin leader from Uttar Pradesh, decided to challenge Sonia Gandhi for the party presidency. An election was held and Sonia Gandhi got almost 99 per cent of the votes. Unfortunately, Prasada died of a heart attack a little over two months after that election. His son, Jitin Prasada, has grown in the Congress and has done very well, has been a minister, been respected and has had power as well. So one can say that even though Jitendra Prasada challenged Sonia Gandhi, his son was able to rise in the party ranks.

Lack of internal democracy

Congress leaders counter this allegation of ‘lack of internal democracy’, by saying, “we still have more internal democracy than the BJP”. It’s not saying much, though it may be right because at least in the Congress party, people had the courage to write a letter complaining about the leadership. They held a Congress Working Committee meeting and everybody had a say. In the BJP of late, such a thing has been an impossibility.

But that really is a poor comparison and a poor consolation, because the BJP, for all its supposed lack of internal democracy, has the numbers. It has numbers in Parliament. It has numbers in a sufficiently large number of state assemblies, whereas Congress has declining numbers everywhere.

Also read: Congress letter signatories to ‘lay low’ after CWC fiasco, hope concerns will be addressed


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism


  1. Gandhi family will never let go of the party which has been their bread , butter and bacon. They have to have the control over assets of the party. Once out of party who will protect them from Income tax dept and ED. They are the ultimate limpets.

  2. Unfortunately neither Soniyaji nor Rahul has that calibre or stature of Mrs. Indira Gandhi…. That’s the problem the party is facing at present…. So they must look for a new face to take the sinking ship through the troubled waters….

  3. Why would Pappu & his Mummy want to relinquish their “leadership role”? The Party has assets worth Re 50,000 Crore all over the country.
    Even a half-wit like Pappu understands that letting go of a “leadership role” means letting go of that loot.
    Does anyone imagine even in their wettest of wet dreams that this Family has the good of the country at heart?

    • 50 000 crores is not with congress party
      But I their personal account abroad
      Benjamin properties in india in their control
      Party is needed to protect themselves in case of raid court cases etc

Comments are closed.