It was in July last year that Rahul Gandhi quit as the Congress president without waiting for election of a new party chief. A month later – in August 2019, Sonia Gandhi came back as “Interim” president of the Congress.
It was a dramatic transition that was set in motion by the second successive rout of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha election. The Congress, hoping to bring down the Narendra Modi government, could win only 52 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha. Rahul Gandhi, as Congress president, lost from family bastion of Amethi and entered the Lok Sabha as Wayanad MP.
Rahul Gandhi resigned but not before releasing a four-page letter on Twitter on July 3 last year hitting out more at the senior Congress leaders and the BJP-RSS combine.
His letter revealed that he had fair idea that his fight against the Modi wave backed with the election-winning machine of the BJP was always a decided battle against him. His letter read, “I fought because I love India. And, I fought to defend the ideals India was built upon. At times, I stood completely alone and am extremely proud of it.”
To recall the context, Rahul Gandhi blasted out at the senior Congress leaders at a Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting held in May, when he said the party veterans placed the interests of their sons above the party.
In another CWC meeting in August, the same Congress veterans rallied around and brought Sonia Gandhi back as the Congress president. This was one decision that Rahul Gandhi had forbidden the Congress party from reaching at in his resignation letter.
Given the public opposition by Rahul Gandhi that no member from the Gandhi family should succeed him as the Congress president forced Sonia Gandhi to make the Congress’s unanimous resolution mention that she would be the party chief only till the next president is not elected.
The election to the Congress president’s office was to be held “as soon as possible”. But once Sonia Gandhi returned to the position, the Congress did not seem to be in any hurry.
Most Congress leaders are waiting for Rahul Gandhi to make up his mind again for the same job in the party. Rahul Gandhi, however, is understood to have not changed his ideas about how should the Congress go forward. He has reportedly not agreed to return without an overhauling of the Congress system and an election.
For an election to take place, the Congress has to inform the Election Commission of India (ECI). It has not done so yet. Then all Pradesh Congress Committees need to participate in the process. But the ground-level political work has almost stopped due to prevailing coronavirus situation in the country.
An election to Congress president’s office is unlikely until coronavirus situation improves or Rahul Gandhi changes his mind – this will make electing the next Congress president easy in virtual process.
The other alternative to the Congress is announcing an extension of Sonia Gandhi as the party president. The power lies with the All India Congress Committee (AICC) which has some 2,000 members but the power to take that decision lies in a handful of leaders having ear of the party high-command.