After the meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Monday, headed by incumbent party President Sonia Gandhi, the schedule for the selection of Rahul Gandhi as the new President of Congress was announced.
The election process for the post of the President of Congress will begin from 1 Dec and conclude in 19 days time period. However, the results will almost be finalized on 4 Dec itself, which is the last date to file the nomination for the post. Even though there is no possible challenge against Rahul Gandhi, the Vice President’s elevation to the President will likely be announced on 5 Dec or on 11 Dec after scrutinizing all the papers and the last date for withdrawal of nominations.
In both the cases since the party is more or less confirm that there will be no nomination against Rahul, he is likely to be coronated as the Congress President before 18 Dec, when the results of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly elections are to be announced. However, if there happens to be a contender fighting in front of Rahul Gandhi than the voting will take place on 16 Dec and the results will be announced on 19 Dec.
Briefly addressing the CWC meet, Rahul Gandhi spoke about the Rafale aircraft deal. His main focus was on the assembly election in Gujarat and asked all the Congressmen to, for the time being, only aim for the bull’s eye in Gujarat.
The major query that is rising regarding the change in the Presidentship of Congress is, that will the party also undergo some radical changes regarding the old guards. Some are of the opinion that the old ones will be kept there will be no immediate change in that but there will surely be an inclusion of fresh blood, not necessarily young and aggressive.
The Congress leaders are also of the view that the appointment of Rahul Gandhi as the president of Congress, will make the picture clear on a lot of fronts. Talking about a few Congress Veteran Mani Shankar Aiyar underlined that
- Firstly the party will be clear as to who will be leading the party in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
- Secondly, there will be a shake-up in the top echelons that will combine continuity with change.
- Thirdly, after Rahul Gandhi becomes the President of Congress, there will a new way to look at the issues and new focus will be on the issues that will be raised between now and 2019.
Another, senior Congress leader claimed that Rahul is very clear that once he becomes party president, he will change his working style also. The party Vice President has always faced criticism over his style of working and especially his unavailability and contact with the people. Unlike Sonia Gandhi, Rahul is less active in meeting the workers predominantly the grassroots level workers.
Anil Shastri, a permanent invitee to the CWC said that “He will have to meet more people. He will have to be more available than he is now… not to leaders but to workers. Like Sonia was in her initial days… she was meeting people every day. Unless he gets feedback from people on the ground, it will be very difficult to meet the challenge of taking on the NDA government.”
He also added that the new President will also have to deal with many challenges including the restructuring the organization and revamping the party and bringing in new faces in the party.
Many senior leaders have also expressed a common issue that almost everyone in the party faced was that the dual decision taking leaders. AICC general secretary Kamal Nath had once said that “there are many occasions when Mrs. Sonia Gandhi thinks Rahul is doing something, and Rahul thinks that Mrs. Sonia Gandhi is doing something, and it falls between two stools.”
Few of the leaders said that now that the presidentship will be under Rahul Gandhi which means that all the decision will be taken by him is also plus point for the party. A senior leader admitted that “For a long time, he and his mother jointly took decisions. And because of that (there was) no ownership and clear accountability… now there will be more accountability and ownership on him.”
Other than this the Congressmen were also very positive about Rahul Gandhi taking up the position as they have already started to witness the changes in the party. Jitin Prasada said that “A gradual change is already being brought about in the party. People, both young and old, are being given positions of responsibility.”
Though everyone is happy about Rahul’s elevation, there was no specific role that was decided for Sonia Gandhi who will be retiring from the post of the President of Congress after 19 years. regarding this Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that “Sonia Gandhi is our leader and mentor. She has always guided the Congress party and we cannot conceive that her guidance, her able leadership will not be available. Her able leadership and guidance will always be available, not only to Rahul Gandhi but also to crores and crores of Congressmen and women always.”
Another major question that is rising in the minds of many is that will Rahul Gandhi be able to cope up with other regional parties in the way Sonia Gandhi dealt with them?
To this, some of the Congress leaders reacted that it is not just the Congress that is witnessing generational changes but many other parties also have fresh blood and Rahul will be able to set a good rapport with them.
Other than Congress, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has taken total control of the Samajwadi Party after a prolonged tug-of-war with his father Mulayam Singh Yadav and uncle Shivpal Yadav. Rashtriya Janata Dal will also sooner or later will be changing its president and it is most likely that the current Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s son, Tejashwi Yadav will succeed his father. Veteran Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader M Karunanidhi has declared that his son MK Stalin will lead the Tamil Nadu party in future.
Also soon, Nationalist Congress Party’s chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule or nephew Ajit Pawar will be taking over as the chief of NCP. Other than this, the first among the new generation of leaders was Omar Abdullah when in 2009, he became the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
Apart from this other major regional parties that have good relations with Congress is Mamata Banerjee’s party Trinamool Congress and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party. But none of them seem to be having a change in the chief in the near future.
So if analyzed on this basis, Rahul has good relations with Omar Abdullah, Akhilesh Yadav, Tejashwi Yadav and MK Stalin. So it does not seem like the new Congress President is going to face many problems dealing with the regional parties.
Many Congress leaders have expressed their confidence that it will be easier for Rahul to connect with the young leaders, but they also showed a glint of concern that the new Congress President, along with the young leaders, will also have to maintain good relations with the senior leaders as well.
Rahul Gandhi is likely to be announced as the President of Congress before the announcement of the results of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections.