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Congress leadership crisis: The old guard vs new guard conundrum


New Delhi, July 04: Rahul Gandhi has officially confirmed that he would indeed step down as the Congress chief and took full responsibility for party's abysmal performance in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Asserting that he was no longer the Congress president, Gandhi said it had been an honour to serve the party, the values and ideals of which had served as the "lifeblood of this beautiful nation". In an open letter posted on Twitter, Gandhi wrote that "accountability is critical for the future growth of our party."

Yes, the Congress is in a spot of bother, yes there is a crisis, but it is also the time to re-invent and show that the grand old party can be progressive. Congress has long been blamed for not having an 'internal-democracy. This was evident even when Rahul Gandhi was elevated to the party president's post.

File photo of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi at a CWC meeting

During Rahul's elevation as party chief, a process was held, but there were no other contenders for the post. Shehzaad Poonawala spoke out in the open that he wanted to contest for president's post, but was shunned. The issue became public and Shehzaad finally left the party, but not before bringing to the notice of the masses that things were not transparent in the Congress.

Rahul Gandhi pens 4-page emotional letter after saying he's not Congress chief

There are layers in the Congress. What is called as the old guard comprising of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi loyalists, and the new guard which comprises of young leaders like Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot.

The reluctance of the old guard to change has come to the fore many times. Handing over of power to the new guard has been a problem, and it was evident when it came to choosing Chief Ministers for Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, after Congress won assembly elections in three states last year.

In Rajasthan, both Sachin Pilot, who managed the campaign, and Ashok Gehlot, a veteran and former CM, staked a claim to the post. Many rounds of meetings were held, and Sachin Pilot even reportedly remained defiant. But, the final outcome was that Gehlot was chosen. That was the time, party could have shown its willingness to change, something which the BJP has time and again pointed out.

Similar thing happened when Kamal Nath was chosen over Jyotiraditya Scindia for Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister's post. Scindia supporters were out on the streets of Bhopal, and almost seemed ready to rebel.

Rahul steps down: "Would remain our leader", says Khurshid; How did others react?

The MP-Rajasthan issue was amicably settled and nothing came out in the open, but the entire episode involving many rounds of meetings sent across a message that the party is still in the clutches of the 'old guard'. So, now is the time to change that perception and showcase that Congress can be a progressive and 'truly democratic' party. And the progressiveness and right message is need of the hour on which the very existence of the party depends.

Now that Rahul has made it absolutely clear that he does not want to be party chief, it remains to be seen who would be given the reins of the grand old party. The names of senior Congress leaders Sushilkumar Shinde, Mallikarjun Kharge, Ashok Gehlot and Motilal Vora were doing the rounds as possible candidates for the party president's post, but a decision would be made only after the meeting of the CWC.

The Congress party's future would be chalked out at the meeting of the Congress Working Committee, the highest decision making body of the party, which is likely to meet early next week.

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