Congress Leadership Crisis: Why not Shashi Tharoor for Congress president?
At a time when Rahul Gandhi has lost Amethi, Jyotiraditya Scindia has lost Guna and Priyanka Gandhi has lost before even starting, Congress needs a winner at its helm. It needs Shashi Tharoor.
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You may remember a petition delivered in your mailbox in 2017. It was started by someone based out of Thiruvananthapuram. He wanted his MP, Shashi Tharoor, as the Congress’s Prime Ministerial candidate for 2019.
May 23 had all the ingredients to propel me to take another look at that petition, which closed after it got 18,630 supporters. The petition was closed because Tharoor intervened, thanked his fans and eloquently told them that politics didn’t work that way.
“I am a member of Parliament for the Congress Party, nothing more, nothing less. The party has a settled leadership, which is not up for debate. When changes occur they do so through an established procedure,” Tharoor wrote on Facebook, putting a lid to the clamour before it could take any further shape.
That was a different time.
Now is a different time.
With Rahul Gandhi offering to resign from the post he assumed only recently, the party is heading towards a quandary. Rahul Gandhi has taken the responsibility of the huge electoral setback and offered to resign. Notwithstanding whether his resignation would be accepted or not, this is a significant move, indicating a few changes on the horizon. Obviously, there are two possibilities — his resignation, if offered, won’t be accepted and the Grand Old Party will not let go of Rahul. Second, and quite unlikely, the party may mull an alternative — either one from the Gandhi family, or an alternative from outside.
And here’s why we think — without going into his elaborate academic and political credentials — Shashi Tharoor fits the bill.
Up for it, Mr Tharoor? The party needs a non-dynastic winning face to keep it together. (Photo: India Today)
Congress' leadership crisis
Accepting responsibility for a major defeat is one thing. Offering a resignation is another. So, is Rahul Gandhi not convinced of his leadership skills? Is he not willing to lead the Congress anymore? News of various resignations from state Congress units is also pouring in. An unwilling leadership is as damaging as an incapable leadership — both have no cure.
In this situation, the party needs strong leadership — not a PM face for 2024. That can wait. The morale of the grassroots cadre needs to be boosted, keeping an eye on the upcoming state elections as well. Retaining the states that the Congress wrested in 2018 should be the primary focus. The leadership crisis is not something the party can afford to waste time deliberating on now.
Shashi Tharoor is a winner
Losing a family bastion like Amethi tells you a lot about both the present condition of Rahul Gandhi and the party. Veteran Congress leader Digvijay Singh lost in Bhopal. We can’t say that it’s time for young faces either, because that's already been done and young leaders (for example, Jyotiraditya Scindia, representing Guna since 2002) also lost.
This is a signal to be taken seriously.
Yes, there are Congress leaders who have won in this election.
But none like Shashi Tharoor who has national acclaim.
Not a dynasty face
Barring the two years of Sitaram Kesri (1996-1998), the post-Nehru Congress has been the property of the Gandhi family.
The rot lies there. And Shashi Tharoor is the non-dynasty face that the party now needs.
The rebuilding must start — from the south.