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Analysis | Will Congress continue to have Sonia at the helm even after August 10?

Congress president Sonia Gandhi. File

Congress president Sonia Gandhi. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

As Sonia Gandhi completes a year as the interim president of the Congress on August 10, there is still no clarity on the way forward with regard to appointing a full-time president.

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

If the party extends Ms Gandhi’s tenure for sometime, as is likely, it will have to officially inform the Election Commission of India (ECI) and subsequently get it endorsed by the Congress Working Committee (CWC).

The CWC, however, is unlikely to meet any time soon as all the attention is on the August 14 session of the Rajasthan Assembly and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s plan to prove majority on the floor of the House.

“The future course of action, as and when it is decided, will be shared with you”, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera told reporters at a virtual press conference on Friday.

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

The party’s plan of a revamp, including appointment of a fulltime president is now caught between the Sachin Pilot-led rebellion in Rajasthan and the ongoing pandemic.

Rahul’s stand

Though there is a growing clamour among a section of party leaders for Rahul Gandhi to take over as the party president once again, he has not shown any urgency to get back to his earlier position even as the party hurtles from one crisis to another.

Interestingly, Ms Gandhi was brought in as the interim president not only because the party couldn't arrive at a consensus over a non-Gandhi leader but also because only a leader from the Gandhi family was expected to hold together the different factions.

However, subsequent events have challenged this notion as young leaders — from Ashok Tanwar in Haryana to Jyotiraditya Scindia in Madhya Pradesh — have quit and the party lost the Madhya Pradesh government where it had come to power after 15 years.

More recently, at a closed-door virtual meeting of the party’s Rajya Sabha members, the party’s old guard was questioned by a young MP over the UPA government’s track record that led to the 2014 debacle.

The comment resulted in a very public backlash from four UPA ministers - Anand Sharma, Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor and Milind Deora -- and the MP was forced to retract his position.

Punjab dissidence

Even before the party could tame the dissidence in Rajasthan, it is growing in another Congress ruled State, Punjab.

Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar has now asked for disciplinary action against two Rajya Sabha members -- Samsher Singh Dullo and Partap Singh Bajwa -- for seeking a CBI and Enforcement Directorate inquiry against illegal distilleries in the State.

The party certainly needs to get back to the drawing board with regard to the leadership question and consider suggestions from leaders like Mr. Tewari, who have advocated elections for the top post if the Gandhis are not inclined.

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2020 2:05:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/analysis-will-cong-continue-to-have-sonia-at-the-helm-even-after-august-10/article32295356.ece

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