If Rahul Gandhi was to now withdraw his resignation, his credibility would suffer a near fatal political blow.

 

The first session of the Indian National Congress was held in Bombay on 29 December 1885. Womesh Chandra Bannerjee, a well known lawyer from Bengal, presided over the session. Between 1888 and 1917, five non-Indians were elected president of the Congress. George Yule, 1888; Sir William Wedderburn, 1889; Alfred Webb, 1894; Sir Henry Cotton, 1904; Annie Besant, 1917.

The youngest President was Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, 1923, Delhi special session. He was 35 years of age. Jawaharlal Nehru was first elected President in 1929 at the age of 40. Subhas Chandra Bose, 1938, aged 41. Indira Gandhi was 42, when she was elected for the first time in 1959. Rajiv Gandhi became President in 1984, aged 40.

I have given these names and dates to highlight the fact that Rahul Gandhi became Congress President at the age of 47 and formally resigned on 3 July, aged 49. By no means can he be classified as a young man. The momentous decision he did not take in a huff, but obviously after mature consideration. In his letter he clearly indicated the reasons for his resignation. He has taken full responsibility for the humiliating defeat of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha elections held a few weeks back. This is leadership.

I read his absorbing and candid letter with care. Some portions were both moving and minced no words. My dear Old friend, MotilalVoraji (we are about the same age) announced that Rahul Gandhi’s resignation would not be accepted. He means well, but is not familiar with Rahul’s character. The chief ministers of Congress ruling states were summoned to Delhi. They were, in no uncertain terms told by Rahul Gandhi that his decision was irrevocable. Instead of respecting his decision, we witnessed a pathetic and farcical performance by magician Chief Minister of Rajasthan enumerating the serious sins of omission and commission committed by the Bhartiya Janata Party during the elections. The implication was that it was not a fair election. He conveniently neglected to give reasons for the abysmal performance of the Congress, which increased its tally from 44 in 2014 to 52. Some achievement.

Rahul Gandhi in his letter made it clear that he was alone fighting the elections. In the CWC meeting held soon after the results were announced, he upbraided Messrs. Gehlot, Chidambaram and Kamal Nath for threatening to resign if their sons were not given tickets. The proceedings of that CWC meeting were shown live on every TV Channel.

Many Congress men and women have threatened anshan if Rahul does not take back his resignation. One does not quite know how to respond to these absurd theatricals. Politics is serious business. What the country is witnessing is a high class political tamasha by senior Congress leaders of what once was, without doubt, among the greatest democracies in the world.

If Rahul Gandhi was to now withdraw his resignation, his credibility would suffer a near fatal political blow. Does not the Congress (CWC) shouting brigade realise this. At the same time it must be borne in mind that whether Rahul Gandhi is Congress President or not, he will for the foreseeable future remain the most powerful Congress leader. He is no push over. It is becoming clearer by the day that the Congress party cannot continue its ostrich-like attitude. It must elect a new president. Rahul Gandhi has cautioned against delay. He is absolutely right. The party is in the midst directionless drift.

Mercifully there are a few balanced individuals in the Congress who have publicly declared that they respect Rahul’s decision. The lead has been given by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, followed by Verappa Moili, the Karnataka leader.

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Akash Vijayvargiya, the BJP MLA from Indore, has done his family and party much harm. His father, party secretary, Kailash Vijayvargiya, has declared that his son should be punished for his despicable behaviour. Prime Minister Modi came down heavily on the conduct of the errant MLA.  The nation awaits, with bated breath, to see what punishment will be meted out to the man. The least the BJP can do is to suspend him from the party. The same should be done to Nitish Rane, the Maharashtra Congress MLA, for his deplorable conduct.

 

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