News analysis: Rahul Gandhi’s not so subtle message to Congress

A file photo of Rahul Gandhi.  

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s four-page open letter that formally and unambiguously announces his exit as the party chief is both a message to and indictment of his party colleagues.

Mr. Gandhi not only held himself accountable for the 2019 poll debacle but, more importantly, also made it clear that heads need to roll.

“Rebuilding the party requires hard decisions and numerous people will have to be made accountable for the failure of 2019. It would be unjust to hold others accountable but ignore my own responsibility as President of the party,” he said in the letter.

This articulation assumes even more significance if one views this against the backdrop of media leaks that Mr. Gandhi was disappointed over the fact that nobody else was willing to take responsibility for the debacle.

Without any direct reference to his party colleagues, Mr. Gandhi seems to have addressed a common criticism that the Congress is more comfortable being the party in power than the Opposition.

“It is a habit in India that the powerful cling to power, no one sacrifices power. But we will not defeat our opponents without sacrificing the desire for power and fighting a deeper ideological battle,” he said.

During the May 25 meeting of the Congress Working Committee, Mr. Gandhi is learnt to have told his party colleagues that he did not get enough ‘support’ from them when he took on the government over issues such as the Rafale deal.

Soon after the poll debacle, there were even murmurs among Congress veterans that Mr. Gandhi’s emphasis on allegations of corruption over the Rafale deal and slogans such as “Chowkidar chor hain” (the watchman is a thief) had backfired.

Mr. Gandhi, however, made it clear where he stood on this issue by defending a ‘strong and dignified’ campaign. He pointed out that he was alone in his fight against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“We fought a strong and dignified election. Our campaign was one of brotherhood, tolerance and respect for all of India’s people, religions and communities. I personally fought the Prime Minister, the RSS and the institutions they have captured with all my being. I fought because I love India. And I fought to defend the ideals India was built upon. At times, I stood completely alone and am extremely proud of it. The Prime Minister’s win does not negate the breadth of corruption allegations against him; no amount of money and propaganda can ever hide the light of the truth,” he said.

Earlier, when Mr. Gandhi assumed charge as general secretary of the Congress, he had unsuccessfully tried to bring about changes in the organisation, as his experiments like conducting U.S.-style primaries in deciding a party candidate for the elections failed to take off.

He may, however, be more effective in bringing about a churn in the grand old party with his departure as the party chief.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 5:57:21 PM |

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