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Analysis | A year after he quit as Congress chief, Rahul continues to shape party’s stand on key issues

Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi. File

Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi. File   | Photo Credit: Atul Loke

A year after Rahul Gandhi formally resigned as Congress president on July 3, 2019 holding himself responsible for the party’s Lok Sabha poll debacle, he continues to shape the party’s response on most issues.

Also read: Full text of Rahul Gandhi's open letter on 2019 general election and resignation as Congress president

From brainstorming at a recent virtual meeting to discuss the coming Bihar Assembly elections to leading the party’s attack on the Modi government over the India-China face-off, COVID-19 management and the rising fuel prices, Mr. Gandhi is leading the charge, even as his mother Sonia Gandhi continues as the party’s interim president.

“I think COVID has put a pause to our leadership issue. We are a big national party and are conscious of the fact that we should have a full-time party president and formalise the process as early as possible. I think madam Sonia Gandhi is also contemplating about it,” Congress Leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury told The Hindu on Sunday.

Last Friday, virtually addressing party colleagues on the Bihar elections, Mr. Gandhi committed himself to ‘spending as much time as the party wants’ and advised on how to go about the tricky issue of alliances.

Also read: Raising the bar: on Rahul Gandhi's resignation

Almost on a daily basis, the former Congress chief has been attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the India-China face-off, especially over Mr. Modi’s statement during the June 19 all-party meet that ‘none had occupied Indian land or any Indian post’.

Though the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) clarified that Mr. Modi’s speech only referred to the area where the clashes took place, the Congress leader continued to attack him personally.

Also read: Rahul Gandhi offers to resign as party president at Congress Working Committee meeting

Targeted 19 times

Since June 15, when the Galwan clashes between the Indian and Chinese troops took place, Mr. Gandhi has targeted the Prime Minister 19 times, either on Twitter or in video messages.

Accusing Mr. Modi of ‘surrendering’ before the Chinese, on June 21, he tweeted, “Narendra Modi Is actually Surender Modi’.

“Ladakhis say: China took our land. PM says: Nobody took our land. Obviously, someone is lying,” Mr. Gandhi tweeted when Mr. Modi was on a visit to Ladakh.

Handling of COVID

The former Congress chief has also been very active in sharing his views on the handling of the COVID pandemic. He started a series of virtual dialogues with experts from different fields on how to handle the pandemic, including Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee, economist Raghuram Rajan, industrialist Rajiv Bajaj among others, and became a part of the Congress’ internal group on COVID that is headed by former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

Since the March 25 nationwide lockdown, Mr. Gandhi held at least three press conferences to highlight the different aspects of the Modi government’s COVID handling.

Yet, when a journalist asked him at a virtual press conference on May 8 whether he was ready to take over the party’s reins again, Mr. Gandhi replied, “Please see my letter from a year ago.”

Gehlot’s appeal

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, backed by other colleagues, again raised the issue on June 23 at a meeting of the Congress Working Committee, but Mr. Gandhi kept quiet.

However, another leader, known to be close to Mr. Gandhi, said the party did not have any other option as ‘Mr. Gandhi is the most acceptable leader to the workers after his mother’.

The delay in settling the leadership question, however, could also be deliberate, as a powerful section, including sitting members of Parliament, is not eager at his return and the party may not risk open dissidence now.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 1:04:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/a-year-after-he-quit-as-congress-chief-rahul-continues-to-shape-partys-stand-on-key-issues/article31994561.ece

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