A Congress Crisis Memo

As the Congress hunts for a new chief post Rahul Gandhi’s resignation, there have been various suggestions by party veterans. However, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s suggestion that the party should appoint someone “young” as the next chief in keeping with the dominant demographics of a new resurgent India has raised hackles amongst the old guard, with one of them commenting, “Why doesn’t he begin with his own state first and let Punjab have a younger Chief Minister?” Of course, the younger lot are quick to toe the Captain’s line, with Jyotiraditya Scindia also echoing the demand for a young leader as the next party chief. Though having said this, it would be interesting to see his reaction if Sachin Pilot becomes the said “young” party chief.

Why Did Scindia and Deora resign?

Even though they are not the only ones to follow Rahul Gandhi’s example and resign over the Lok Sabha debacle, a lot of questions are being asked about Jyotiraditya Scindia’s and Milind Deora’s resignations as party general secretary and Mumbai Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief, respectively. One reason for this is that both are known to be close to former Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Hence, this begs the question: was their resignations at the behest of Rahul Gandhi, who did mention in his resignation letter that he wanted to set an example by taking accountability for the party’s loss? And if yes, then was Rahul trying to pressurise others to follow suit by getting his loyalists to resign? If so, are these resignations simply to ease the path of the “new interim” president so that he can use his own team, or is Rahul getting his loyalists out of the way of the new team so that when the “interim” president trips, he and his old team can be welcomed back on an “all is forgiven” note? In this vortex of questions, comes the role of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Yes, Rahul has ruled out that he doesn’t want any member of his family to be the next party president. But Priyanka has not resigned as yet, even though she and Scindia were made general secretaries around the same time. Moreover, she has aggressively stepped up her presence on social media, giving some hope to Congressmen that perhaps all the Gandhis are not in abdication mode. Clearly, the Congress has little time to focus on saving Karnataka and Goa, not to mention wresting back Haryana and Maharashtra, for it has to first grapple with its internal issues. As a Congress veteran quipped when asked if the Karnataka government was falling, “The whole party is falling. The Congress is in a state of free fall.” However, while speaking to NewsX, national spokeperson Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi did say that the party would have an “interim” president in place by next week to take crucial decisions regarding the upcoming state polls and it would hold elections to the post of party chief by October-November.

Win Some, Lose Some

Congress leader Salman Khurshid released his latest book this week. Titled Visible Muslim, Invisible Citizen: Understanding Islam in Indian Democracy, it is an interesting treatise about the plight of the minority community. The book’s timing is also interesting for it comes at a time when the Congress is re-examining its ideological identity. However, Khurshid ran into some rough weather at his book launch, for he had invited Dr Subramanian Swamy to be on the panel along with Asaduddin Owaisi. To be fair to Khurshid, the duo make for a riveting debate with their sparring, but he forgot one crucial factor: the extreme caution with which his colleagues in the Congress treat Dr Swamy, for the BJP leader is known for his no holds barred attack on the Congress leadership. And the one thing about Dr Swamy is that no matter what the topic is, he makes his own rules of engagement.

The Last Word

The last word on the Congress goes to an Opposition colleague, Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi. While participating on the role of the Opposition on the NewsX-Sunday Guardian Roundtable, he quipped that while the BJP had gone from 2 to 303, the Congress had come down from 400-plus to 2—the two MPs being Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. He is not quite wrong, for in terms of perception, it’s still only these two who matter, resignation or no resignation.

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