Electing the next Congress chief

The Congress Working Committee has dragged its feet again, denying the ailing Sonia Gandhi the much needed relief from the onerous responsibility she is carrying. Rahul Gandhi’s election as the next Congress president has been deferred till October on the plea that the party’s organizational elections will be over by that time. There is still an element of uncertainty about it. Obviously, not only the party’s old guard but many further down the hierarchy have reservations about Rahul Gandhi’s leadership ability. But Sonia Gandhi’s position could have been formalized by creating a new post for her as chairperson of a group of advisers to the party president.
This hesitation to announce formally the name of the new party president with the next Lok Sabha elections just a year and a half away exposes the party’s inherent weakness. To put it plainly, Rahul has not established himself as the future leader with Congressmen themselves, not to speak of the millions of traditional Congress supporters. The second weakness of the Congress is that since Indira Gandhi’s time, the party has gradually evolved in a way that it has become dependent only on the Nehru-Gandhi family. Even Priyanka Bhadra’s name is bandied about from time to time.  If Rahul fails, his sister will not. This is the expectation. But the expectation is not logical. Leadership is an inborn quality in a person’s character. It shows early. If the Indian National Congress has to survive and celebrate its two hundredth foundation anniversary in 2085, it has to rid itself of the dependence on a single family. Or else, it will not be able to face new challenges
Even if Rahul Gandhi is made the party president in October, the Congress must look for fresh talents and groom them for shouldering the responsibility of running the party in the next generation. The Congress, along with the country’s politics, underwent a sea change in the first hundred years of its existence. From being the leader of the country’s freedom movement, it became the instrument of the country’s economic and social transformation. In the next hundred years, there will be another sea change in the country’s condition. At home it has to raise the standard and quality of living of its people substantially. At another plane, it will have to work out its modus Vivendi in a changing world. If the Congress thinks it just can’t die out but must live on for taking India forward in every respect, then it must build up a chain of command that will be constantly renewed by infusion of new blood.

Friday, 9 June, 2017