Elections to party president, CWC would have a number of beneficial outcomes, says Shashi Tharoor

Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor. File

Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Senior Congress leader and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor in an interview to The Hindu calls for elections to the Congress Working Committee and the post of the party president to challenge the perception of the party being “adrift and rudderless, incapable of taking up the challenge of a credible national Opposition”.

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Sonia Gandhi completes a year as Congress president. This was supposed to be an ad hoc arrangement. But so far there is no clarity on what the party will do on August 10. What are your personal views on the way forward for the party.

I certainly believe we should be clear about our leadership going forward. I welcomed Soniaji’s appointment as interim president last year but I do believe it’s unfair to her to expect her to carry this burden indefinitely. My own personal view, which as you know I have been advocating for some time now, is that elections to the CWC and for the post of president would certainly have a number of beneficial outcomes for the party. A participatory democratic process would significantly add to the incoming leader’s credibility and legitimacy which, in turn, would be vital assets as they set about the significant organisational challenges associated with re-energising the rank and file of the party.

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

You have repeatedly called for an open election within the party, a sort of public event, which you said would galvanise the party cadres. The history of the Congress however does not really stand by your proposition. The party has repeatedly picked the family over others. Your comments.

I think the question mixes up two different issues. Obviously the Nehru-Gandhi family holds a special place in the hearts of Congress party members — and with good reason too. Aside from the great legacy they have inherited from their illustrious forebears, they have consistently brought together the various groups, ideologies, geographies and communities that collectively make up the fabric of the Congress party. They also have a clear record of success and experience in leading the party, both when in government and during tough times in the wilderness, when they have still managed to rally the men and women of the Congress together. Let us not forget the magnitude of what they have achieved for the party — or the ultimate sacrifice paid by two former presidents from the family. So if Rahul Gandhi is ready to resume the leadership, all he has to do is to withdraw his resignation. He was elected to serve till December 2022 and can just pick up the reins again. It would be a popular outcome among the rank and file of the party. But if he does not, we have to find another solution. That’s what I am talking about.

Also read: Congress Working Committee may have to give extension to Sonia Gandhi

How dangerous it is you believe for the party to continue to coast along in this manner without a clarity about leadership.

As I have often pointed out the challenge is that there appears to be a growing public perception, fuelled by a dismissive media, that the Congress is adrift and rudderless, incapable of taking up the challenge of a credible national Opposition. That is precisely what we need to urgently address by expediting the process of finding a full-term president. Once this is done, we can also move towards identifying solutions to other areas such as organisational challenges, revitalising the party particularly in the States that we have not been performing well in recently, energising the rank and file of our membership and so on.

Also read: Congress brings back Sonia Gandhi to lead for now

Should Mr. Rahul Gandhi return to helm withdrawing his resignation?

I for one would be delighted if he did. Just look at the active and dynamic leadership these last few months. Through his activities during this lockdown, whether it has been on the issue of the COVID-19 virus or Chinese transgressions, Rahul Gandhi has without a question and almost singlehandedly done a remarkable job in holding the present government accountable for its actions and failures.

Also read: ‘Team Rahul’ takes on UPA Ministers at Congress meeting

He has also displayed tremendous foresight and vision, been a constructive voice that has offered critical inputs and has shown an impressive capability to really understand the aspirations of the people during these challenging times. I hope he will continue doing that, whether as president or in any other capacity of his choosing. I certainly think he has the mettle, capability and aptitude to again lead the party, given the widespread admiration and support he enjoys among the rank and file.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2020 3:57:27 AM |

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