The last has certainly not been heard as far as Rahul Gandhi’s decision to resign as President of the Congress party is concerned. Though the party continues to maintain that his resignation was unanimously rejected by the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the fact is that Rahul Gandhi remains determined to carry through with his resolve to resign as party chief in the wake of the electoral debacle faced by his party.
He is determined to carry through with his resignation. (Photo: Reuters)
In effect, what has happened for now is that the party has managed to buy time, both in the hope of dissuading him from stepping down and also, as a last resort, to find somebody suitable to take charge in the event of Rahul Gandhi not changing his mind. The party is pinning its hopes on his sister Priyanka Gandhi to leveraging her influence with him and persuading him to continue as party president. Both Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka joined the rest of the CWC members in imploring Rahul Gandhi not to resign. While Sonia Gandhi urged him to listen to what the party had to say, Priyanka is said to have told him that resigning would mean that the BJP had succeeded in its strategy in getting him out of their way of political strategy.<
Will their influence work? Will he stay? (File photo/PTI)
The CWC meeting was thrown into turmoil the moment Rahul Gandhi dropped the bombshell of deciding to resign. Members, young and old, did their best to dissuade their party chief. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh is reported to have said, “I’ve known you since you were a little child. I implore you to continue to lead the party”. Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, a man not given to displaying his emotions in public, reportedly broke down.
Rahul Gandhi took it all in but apparently remained unmoved. Speaking in a steady and calm voice, he listed reasons for his decision, saying that he viewed the fight with BJP not just in electoral terms but also as a larger ideological battle. He apparently said he could not carry on that ideological battle encumbered by the responsibility of running the party. He promised to continue to serve the party as an MP and as an ordinary worker, and countered some members who referred to the fact that the Nehru-Gandhi family had always provided leadership to the party, by saying that “The Party Chief does not have to be a Gandhi."
Rahul Gandhi, it appears, had made up his mind to quit soon after the results started trickling in, but was persuaded to wait for the CWC meeting. He has had a rough ride ever since he joined politics. Few politicians have had to put up with the sustained and systematic campaign that his opponents undertook in caricaturing and taking him down. Yes, he has made mistakes, and leave of absence and frequent trips abroad have helped his opponents label him as a part-time politician.
Part-time politician? His holidays earned Rahul Gandhi criticism. (Photo: Twitter)
To his credit, he took all the barbs and criticism that came his way on his chin.
There has been a perceptible change in him ever since he became President of the party. He was the only leader at the national level to stand up to and challenge Mr Modi. He has come a long way from where he started, he gave it his best, which unfortunately was not good enough to prevent humiliating defeats that his party suffered in 2014 and 2019
However, it is grossly unfair to lay at his door all the blame for the plight that the Congress finds itself in today.
The decay had set in decades ago.
Rajiv Gandhi had first highlighted this problem at the historic AICC session in Mumbai. The Congress prides itself on being that natural party of governance which, when out of power, is like a fish out of water. Sonia Gandhi somehow managed to hold it together, and Rahul sought to change things but without much success — he gave it his all, but it wasn’t enough. Unfortunately for him, two of the party’s worst performances came under his leadership.
Rahul Gandhi has often admitted to his friends and close associates that he has a stubborn streak and seldom deviates from a position once his mind is made up. His stance today, to my mind, is one such moment.