RAHUL Gandhi’s offer to resign from the post of Congress president, taking entire responsibility for the 2019 Lok Sabha poll rout, evoked a sense of déjà vu. Back in 2014, after the Modi wave decimated the Grand Old Party, then Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and then vice-president Rahul had declared their intent to step down from their posts. The Congress Working Committee (CWC) had not only rejected the offer, but also reposed faith in their leadership. On Saturday, the familiar script was played out in the case of the Gandhi scion, who was authorised by the CWC to carry out an overhaul of the party at all levels.
What was different this time was Rahul’s tough talk as he targeted certain senior leaders for putting the interests of their sons ahead of the interest of the party. In his line of fire were Chief Ministers Ashok Gehlot and Kamal Nath and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram. Taking an uncompromising stand, Rahul also asked the CWC to choose a new leader from outside the Gandhi family. However, the proposal was unanimously turned down. Now the ball is in Rahul’s court. It is his job to lift the Congress out of the morass in which it finds itself. He can bank on two veterans with a distinguished track record — Manmohan Singh and Capt Amarinder Singh — who can be considered for the top post. With the party doing quite well in Kerala and Punjab, it’s these states that Rahul should zero in on for nurturing a new crop of leadership.
Nothing less than a purge will do. The party will have to act ruthlessly against all those general secretaries and state unit chiefs who came a cropper. After all, Rahul was not solely responsible for the debacle. Priyanka Gandhi’s contention that her brother was abandoned by party stalwarts during his fight against Narendra Modi underscores the fact that there were enemies within. If the Congress undertakes course correction with sincerity and determination, it might rise from the ashes sooner rather than later.
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