New Delhi: With Congress President Rahul Gandhi adamant that he will not withdraw his resignation, he remains, in parallel, furious with the old guard – Ashok Gehlot, Kamal Nath and P. Chidambaram (Gehlot’s son Vaibhav lost while Kamal Nath’s son Nakul and Chidambaram’s son Karti won) – who were busy pushing their children in the recently-concluded hustings and “not working for the party per se”.
However, better counsel is now prevailing where he has accepted that he will lead the Congress party in the Lok Sabha where its strength from a paltry 44 has gone up to 52, an increase of a mere eight MPs. Sonia Gandhi will remain UPA Chairperson and the family/dynasty will distance itself from day-to-day affairs of the party.
All three Gandhi family members – Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka – will not be involved in the daily functioning of the party. An interim Working President with two or more working Vice Presidents in a loosely-formed presidium will run the party operations and plan for elections and campaigns.
K.C. Venugopal may emerge as interim President while Prithviraj Chauhan could be one of the Vice Presidents.
Given that the Congress has 23 MPs from the south, it appears that a south Indian will helm the party for the time being. Or alternatively, cut the umbilical cord with the past and appoint Jyotiraditya Scindia as the Working President and have the youth brigade of Sachin Pilot, Milind Deora and others under him to turn the party’s fortunes around.
The recent rout which has seen the Congress draw a blank in 17 states and Union Territories and as many as eight Chief Ministers and the leader of the party in the Lok Sabha losing is its darkest chapter yet. In the ensuing vacuum, Treasurer Ahmed Patel, once Political Secretary to Sonia Gandhi, is back to hold the reins.
Congress had fielded 421 candidates across the country but only 52 of them got elected, marking the second dismal performance by the party in the second successive general elections. The Congress won the maximum number of 15 seats in Kerala followed by eight each in Punjab and Tamil Nadu.
Among the party leaders who lost were four members of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the highest decision-making body of the party.
But the Young Turks are determined to dislodge the old guard. Pilot and Scindia are in the forefront to back Gandhi in his “clean-up” attempt. Sources said that in his outburst at the CWC meeting after the Lok Sabha defeat, Gandhi had selectively targeted the old guard.
The Young Turks, all of whom had tasted defeat, were spared. In fact, Pilot and Scindia, being seen as the faces that may replace Rahul Gandhi, did not perform upto expectations. The Congress lost all the seats in Rajasthan for the second time in row, and in Madhya Pradesh, Scindia lost his own election from Guna. But the Young Turks feel that this is the time to take control of the party.