Congress split over Rahul Gandhi’s return

Deccan Chronicle.  | Ashhar Khan

Nation, Politics

Several state leaders oppose Rahul Gandhi’s comeback as party chief.

Rahul Gandhi (File photo, PTI)

New Delhi: A potential split threatens the Congress after speculation that Rahul Gandhi could return at the helm. A debate is raging on ways to rid the party of its “dynasty tag”. Some young leaders are convinced that if Rahul leads it in the 2024 general election, it would spell another electoral washout as he “is no match” for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Several have come out and suggested measures for the party to regain its rhythm, but “inaction at all levels” have left them disheartened.

Earlier this week, former MP Sandeep Dikshit said there were “six to eight” people capable of leading the party. He attacked senior leaders by saying “sometimes you want inaction because you don’t want a certain action to happen”.

Many feel that Rahul is surrounded by “unelectable leaders who want him back because that’s how they can be in power”.

Party leaders who have either lost election or have not fought or are hankering for a Rajya Sabha nomination are floating his name to keep themselves relevant, sources say.

Former Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam, who was sulking during the election, wants Rahul back as party chief.

The situation is so bad, sources say, that several state leaders have started looking at other options. “The time is not ripe for Mr Gandhi to take over,” a state leader said. “It would be better that he takes a backseat and a new face emerges, who can take on the BJP with a new narrative.”

He wondered that if Rahul wanted to return, then why did he leave in such a hurry when the entire party wanted him to continue.

Even with no position his views are mostly against what the party is doing.

Insiders claim he was against the post-poll alliance in Maharashtra with the Shiv Sena. Also, during the Haryana assembly poll, his protégé Ashok Tanwar, who was removed as Haryana unit chief and eventually resigned, was creating trouble for the party.

Many leaders claimed after the 2019 Lok Sabha debacle several candidates in assembly elections are not keen for Rahul to campaign for them.

The other grievance is that Rahul’s office is full of “left-leaning NGO people with little ground-level experience”.

Earlier, former Congress leaders Jagdambika Pal and Hemanta Biswa Sarma (both now with the BJP) claimed it was impossible to get an appointment; and even when one was given, the feedback given to him went “against the grassroots leaders”.

After Sonia Gandhi took charge, there have four Assembly polls — Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Delhi.

The Congress is in power in Jharkhand and Maharashtra, and has increased its tally in Haryana.

It is also argued that the party won Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in 2018 only because of strong state leaders. The pressure within the party is at an all-time high.