October 1, 2020

Decoding the “23 in opposition to 1 Rahul Gandhi” letter and what it means for Congress

Sonia Gandhi is anticipated to supply her resignation as get together interim president at at present’s Congress Working Committee (CWC) meet. She clearly known as a gathering of the apex committee of the get together with this in view after she acquired a letter earlier this month from 23 Congress leaders searching for sweeping adjustments within the functioning of the Grand Previous Get together.

Together with her resignation, she is going to attempt to flip the tables on ‘The 23’, which incorporates CWC members, MPs, former ministers, chief ministers and ex-party chiefs. Already, Punjab and Chhattisgarh chief ministers Amarinder Singh and Bhupesh Baghel have come out in Gandhi’s help.

It’s attainable that the CWC might ask Gandhi to proceed until a brand new president can substitute her. Or it might authorise her to call somebody in her place, within the interim, until elections to the put up might be held. This may increasingly allow her to nominate a family loyalist as get together chief, and purchase time within the mild of the unprecedented and open assault mounted in opposition to the Gandhi family from inside the get together, one thing that has not occurred for a very long time. It’s also attainable that the CWC suggests working presidents or vice presidents to help her whereas she continues to guide the get together for just a little longer.

There are various extra behind ‘The 23’. Round 250 individuals had been contacted, based on a number of the signatories. However it was determined to stay to a smaller cohesive quantity at this stage. It was the signature of senior chief Ghulam Nabi Azad that lent the train gravitas. {That a} Gandhi family loyalist like Azad ought to append his signature to the letter reveals the extent of frustration that exists at present in regards to the ‘drift’ within the get together. This, an organisation the place Congress members don’t rock the boat.

The letter, nonetheless, has much less to do with Sonia Gandhi and extra to do with Rahul Gandhi. The express message is about the necessity to change the get together’s functioning by having a full-time president, by holding free and honest elections to the CWC, Pradesh Congress Committees (PCCs) and different our bodies from high to backside.

However the extra vital implicit message is in opposition to Rahul Gandhi. The letter is a pre-emptive strike to forestall him from changing into get together chief once more, or conduct his fashion of backseat driving. Of late, Rahul’s supporters have made noises demanding he takes over the get together reins once more. Up to now, he has resisted. Having resigned following Congress’s rout in Might 2019, he had made it clear that he wouldn’t rethink his resolution until he was given a free hand to run the get together — and have his personal ‘Kamaraj plan’ of eliminating the outdated guard, and bringing in his personal workforce.

However with Sonia Gandhi unwell, he has reportedly been making most choices — be it Rajya Sabha nominations or PCC presidentships. Amarinder Singh might ask for Manish Tewari as PCC chief in Punjab, however it’s Rahul’s writ that runs. His inaccessibility to get together leaders and employees doesn’t assist. Within the phrases of one of many signatories to the letter, ‘it had turn out to be unfettered energy with out accountability’.

Many Congress leaders have been fearful about a number of of Rahul Gandhi’s tweets going out as Congress coverage with none session in a celebration discussion board — the road the get together ought to tackle China, for example, that took no cognisance of international coverage heavyweights within the get together corresponding to Anand Sharma and Shashi Tharoor.

The selection of phrases within the letter is important. It seeks a ‘full-time,’ ‘seen,’ ‘energetic,’ and ‘efficient’ get together president. Sonia Gandhi, due to her well being, has been a reluctant incumbent who stepped in solely as an ‘interim’ association. Rahul Gandhi is neither ‘seen’ nor ‘efficient’. Although proactive on Twitter — attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the financial downslide, Covid-19 mismanagement, Chinese language incursions — he has didn’t click on on the widespread stage. There may be lastly a rising feeling within the get together that the ‘Modi vs Rahul’ juxtaposition solely helps BJP time and again.

These are early hours for a post-script to this story. However is the Congress now shifting from a ‘Rahul part’ within the get together to 1 the place Priyanka Gandhi Vadra might play a bigger position, not within the interim, however sooner or later? Nowhere does the letter speak in regards to the want for Congress to maneuver in direction of a non-Gandhi family management.