Wednesday, 19 January, 2022
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Why Priyanka Gandhi Vadra should be the next president of the Congress party

Nothing special, she’s just another Gandhi, and that’s good enough reason why she should be Congress president.

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Just as one cannot imagine the Bhartiya Janata Party without the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, one cannot imagine the Congress without the Gandhi family. When the BJP is in crisis, the RSS steps in to save the day. If the Gandhi family steps aside, the Congress party may collapse altogether.

The demise of the Congress party would be fruitful only if another pan-India force is ready to replace it. That is currently not happening.

Rahul Gandhi continuing as Congress president is not an option. His position is untenable after severe defeats in two successive Lok Sabha elections. If Rahul Gandhi continues as party president, it will be more of the same.

Rahul Gandhi has become the picture of incompetence and failure. Whether or not this picture is fair to him, it’s coming in the way of the party’s chances of any rejuvenation. What the Congress needs to realise is this — it needs fresh leadership at the top.

If Rahul Gandhi takes back his decision to resign, the whole affair will seem to have been an orchestrated drama. Already, reports suggest his proposal to resign is not out of any sense of responsibility or renunciation. He wants to do so in a fit of rage, because he blames the party’s top leadership of not following instructions, fighting among each other all the time, and not working with discipline. One report has suggested that he lashed out at leaders who put their sons’ interests above the party’s — not realising that the same could be said of Sonia Gandhi.

Also read: Shashi Tharoor: Obituaries for Congress premature. Here are 9 ways to correct its course

The worst possible outcome of this crisis would be the appointment of a non-Gandhi in the role of party president, and the Congress still being run by the Gandhi family. This would be akin to the Manmohan-Sonia model, where the Gandhi family enjoyed power without accountability. The Gandhi family will make itself immune to criticism, as the party keeps floundering. Disgruntled with the new president, party leaders would start running to the Gandhi family, thus creating two competing power centres. The Congress, eventually, would fall between two stools just like the UPA-2 government did.

Notably, the Gandhi family is not going anywhere even if a non-Gandhi becomes party president. This would only serve to devalue the post of Congress president, as Rahul Gandhi will continue to have a profile bigger than the party president. He’s not proposing to quit politics, neither is his mother or sister.

If a non-Gandhi is not an option, and Rahul Gandhi is not the option, that leaves us with Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Sonia Gandhi, as the UPA chairperson, has had her time, and now needs to bring about a generational transition in the party. That transition is clearly not an easy task. The last five years saw not Rahul Gandhi rebuilding the Congress but the Congress party helping build the image of Rahul Gandhi, without much success.

Division of labour 

Before solving the problem, we need to identify what the problem is. There are two different problems with the Congress today. That the Congress party came up with its election campaign and slogan just a few days before polling began, exemplifies how poorly the party is run. Secondly, Rahul Gandhi as the party’s public face is a liability. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the 2019 Lok Sabha election a presidential contest with Rahul Gandhi (kaamdaar versus naamdaar), which only helped him increase upon the BJP’s tally of 282 seats in 2014 elections to 303 seats this time.

Also read: Rahul’s Left-leaning aides helped Modi brand Congress ‘deshdrohi’, blogs party media head

Modi has always needed Amit Shah, the president of BJP, and Sonia Gandhi ran the Congress through Ahmed Patel. Rahul Gandhi has tried to do both jobs — being the public face and running the party — besides of course his quarterly holidays. Not even Modi and Sonia have tried to keep everything to themselves.

No matter what formula is devised to break the impasse, it is clear that the result will be a division of labour. Rahul Gandhi will continue to be the public face of the party, trying to build his brand and getting pilloried by the BJP on a daily basis.

Least bad option 

Yet, at the very least, the party organisation deserves another person’s attention. This could only be Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, because only a Gandhi can have orders followed in the Congress party, if that. Only a Gandhi could be the unifier for the Congress party.

This is not to say that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has covered herself with glory in her debut as a mass politician this election. She hardly built her brand, making herself all about her brother. She made mistakes like a political novice, such as speculating she might take on Modi in Varanasi, and then appearing to chicken out. She didn’t turn out to be a great orator people expected her to be.

Also read: Congress should avoid knee-jerk reactions: Milind Deora on Rahul Gandhi’s offer to resign

Yet, by virtue of being a Gandhi, she’s the least bad option. A Sachin Pilot might do a better job than her perhaps, but will Ashok Gehlot listen to him? A Mallikarjun Kharge might appear more qualified for the job with his experience, but will anybody believe he is anything more than a rubber stamp of the first family?

Not that replacing party president will change the party’s fortunes overnight. In the end, the Congress party needs to regain its ability to connect with the masses. It needs to reach out to the people, listen to them, become their voice, solve their problems, occupy the opposition space. Doesn’t look like the Congress party of today, under Rahul Gandhi, knows how to do that.

Views are personal.

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  1. Rahul has been Congress president only since 2017. It is unfair to judge his so soon without much experience in politics. After all he was fighting a lion called Modi who is very popular in India right now. Rahul is still learning.. It is the Modi wave which is very popular at the moment. In next election it will be the Congress once again all over., You know how fickle minded people are. It hardly matters whomever wins. They are all corrupt and made from the same lies.

  2. Can we please put a stop to the obsession with the Gandhi-Nehru family? They carry a legacy, I grant you that. But, the people don’t care. Aren’t two embarrassing electoral defeats back-to-back not enough to take the hint?

  3. What…….. do not tell me that Congress Party has run out of talent. First the brother and if he fails then sister is the only suitable candidate….. shame ….. shame on the party which will permit that.

  4. 1. There will always be flip flops in politics. Although BJP has got a massive mandate by doing majoratorian politics and successfully projecting balakot issue at the end common people will ask for food,job and shelter,the basic needs. Looking at the current economic scenario no government can fulfil the needs be it bjp or Congress. So at the end you are bound to taste bitter by the people who have voted for you.
    2. Muscle power shown by vest elements. Today lot of funding is done for these elements by political party who Carry out lynchings. But the common people will understand one day that unwanted clashes can never improve their life but can only deteriorate. If law and order problem is created in our country no one will be able to live in peace.
    3. BJP will be the reason for bjp loss. All mps and mlas of bjp will not be happy as it happened in Congress also. The infighting will be more in the coming days and bjp will start loosing ground.

    For all these keeping in mind I would say Congress need not to panic be confident and do good work for the country and please do not go for appeasement it will hurt you.
    Lastly I have a suggestion for priyanka gandhi if you really want to be in politics take coaching for oratory skills as we all know 21st century is highly competitive and to survive in this business you have to be a good orator otherwise you will not be accepted.

  5. Very BAD idea. What about the elephant in the room? Mr Robert V. Can she pretend he does not exist?

  6. Happened to watch this guy Shivam Vij on NDTV the other day in a debate. That’s when one realised the significant lack of intellectual and rational analysis this guy lacks. Wondered if NDTV has lost it too by having such guys on a debate to fill airtime.

    Yes, Congress, like all political parties do, are going through a bad phase. They will surely find a way to survive and tide over this phase and emerge as a stronger party. End of the day they are fighting a party that won only on the basis of Hinduism and Nationalism. This time around the confusion in the minds of the people was if the glass is half full or half empty?

    The time for realisation of ground realities and pure Rhetoric has yet to come in the minds of the people. Nothing is permenant in politics. BJP as a party is a collection of people from other parties that they garner by engineering splits and survive on the British formula of Divide and Rule. Remember, their history indicated that they sided with the British Rule and also did not have respect and acceptance of the National Flag or the Anthem. It is this chequered history that makes them shout and prove that they are nationalist today. And it is working for now.

    Their real identity or ideology is always a suspect to intellectual voter , which are less in number as this election has proved. However , bringing back Ram Mandir, Hinduism and Ram at the centre of public discourse does indicate their priorities and their path towards making India a majoritarian state.

  7. I dont think people have any problems that need to be solved! Everybody is happy its a question of ideaology

  8. You are right. Just as Gandhi family to Congress, RSS is to BJP. But BJP never acknowledges this fact. They blame Gandhi family remote controlling Congress, calling them dynasty. But BJP which cannot function without the RSS does not speak of it being hegemonised by an organisation which has no legitimacy as a political body. The latter is only a social and cultural organisation, not to speak of its fascist tendencies, which has given an undertaking to the govt of India not to meddle with the politics of the country.

    • You will have to visit RSS Shakha to understand what happens there rather than believing in a communists or liberals. Poor RAGA believed very long in the liberals as well as people in communist parties (tukde tukde) gang and the day Gandhi supported JNU people, Congress is dead that day.! Problem for Congress in my view is they don’t have pan Indian ideology & as long as they support liberals/communists (who cannot even win a college election). For example, they don’t have a person from east India doing wonders nationally like Ram Madhav for BJP. BJP voters have a common idea of our country and that like mindedness is the glue for all the voters across Bharat.! Now whether you agree or disagree is your choice but you cannot make sweeping statements like RSS is fascist organization.

      • “you cannot make sweeping statements like RSS is fascist organization.” why not? the truth hurts?

  9. Congress party won’t exist without a Gandhi at the top. What does that say about the others in the party? Are they a bunch of school kids? Where did Narasimha Rao come from? Where did Manmohan Singh come from? Where has Capt.Amrinder Singh come from? Of course the Congress can exist without the Gandhi’s. Get past this first, and rest will fall in place.
    Rahul is incompetent, but a non-Gandhi will be fatal and result in 2 power centres. Why should it be so? Again comes down to the leadership of the rest of the Congressmen.
    Sonia is old – which this writer tries to camouflage – by using some complex words like “generational transition”; hence only option is Priyanka. Why again?

    This obsession with the Gandhi’s is a fatal achilles heel for the Congress. Get past it, and do it quickly. Only way Congress can rebuild.

  10. Shivam, nehru familu sycophants like you are the reason for the sorry state of the congress party.

  11. Congress, in its history, has seen many ups and downs, splits and revival, right from the time of Pandit Nehru. Why are people afraid of another split and emergence of a leader that can offer a new vision. Let the electoral decimation separate wheat from chaff. Let a leader emerge.

  12. Jab ziqra chhida qayamat ka, Baat aa pahunchi teri jawaani pe. Neither here nor there. Choosing between the two siblings, who was better cut out for the role, was essentially the mother’s call to take. She chose the son, a universal phenomenon. So many years later, it is too late to correct course. The problems of the Congress will not be solved by shuffling the pack. I personally feel the party needs Shri Rahul Gandhi for some time, he should not abandon his post when the ship has been hit by a torpedo. However, for sister to replace brother at this stage would be a farce.

  13. You lack objectivity that a good journalist should have. I am afraid your dislike of Rahul comes out too strongly.

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