Cong leadership crisis unabated: Rahul not acceptable to rebels
NEW DELHI, Jan 23: The Congress has put off solution of its leadership crisis for five months until June since the rebels known as a group of 23 who dashed off a letter to Congress President Sonia over the sinking organisation have refused to accept Rahul Gandhi as the party president once again, citing their reservations in a closed-door meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) here on Friday through the video conferencing.
Though the organisational elections planned in January or February have been postponed ostensibly on the ground of the ensuing Assembly elections, insiders said Sonia Gandhi ordered postponement because of the lack of consensus among the top brass on who should take over from her after she ends her innings as an interim president. The party's central election authority (CEA) had drawn up a calendar for the organisational elections in May, but some protested in the CWC meeting that it would affect the preparations for the forthcoming Assembly elections in West Bengal, Assam Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. The CEA was tasked to draw up a new schedule in the second half of June for the organisational elections.
While Rahul has shown reluctance to take the charge since his resignation in July 2019 owning up the Lok Sabha election drubbing, the rebels sparred with those egging on Rahul to resume the leadership in the CWC meeting and opposed the suggestion to leave everything for Sonia Gandhi to decide. They demanded immediate organisational elections as a pre-requisite for the Congress revival and rejected the alibis peddled to delay the elections.
The rebels, who included former union minister Anand Sharma, rejected the suggestion in the meeting that Rahul is the party's leader, no matter whether he holds any formal post or not. The view that emerged from Friday's CWC meeting is that the party continues to drift rudderless and Rahul has caused immense damage by his vacillations.
The rebels are angry over Rahul not indicating his readiness to return, but continuing to act like the proxy president, which is just not acceptable to them. The two groups fought when the rebels challenged Rahul for going around the poll-bound states without holding any post.
Postponement of the party elections till June means the Congress will remain without an active and functional head for five months and a state of confusion in the party is demoralising its workers.
The insiders blame Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot objecting to some leaders like Anand Sharma, P Chidambaram and Ghulam Nabi Azad insisting that there should be the simultaneous CWC elections that have not been held for the past two decades. His outburst that such a demand means the party leaders have lost faith in the Congress President and those holding key positions because of her blessings were now asking for the internal elections.
First to hit back was Anand Sharma, who wondered why those suggesting reforms to strengthen the party were being insulted, recalling that he had worked with Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and yet his loyalty was being questioned indirectly after decades of service. Sources say the fight ended after veteran leader Ambika Soni intervened to suggest such infights won't help the party.