New Delhi: Talk is rife in the Congress that since circumstances or fate have not thrown up a new leader, the party has perforce to invite Rahul Gandhi back as president. In the light of such talk, it is significant that senior leader Salman Khurshid gave an interview to the news agency PTI on Saturday to say, effectively, that should happen.
The interview may have been prompted by statements by a few leaders such as Shashi Tharoor and Sandeep Dikshit who have said it's time the leadership issue in the Congress was finally laid to rest. Yesterday, Tharoor went so far as to urge the Congress Working Committee (CWC) to hold leadership elections to "energise workers and inspire voters".
Asked about Dikshit and Tharoor's statements, Khurshid hedged: "When we get to that point, we will cross the bridge." But the drift of what he said was that all sections of the party desired Rahul Gandhi's return, and so be it.
Rahul Gandhi resigned as president of the Congress last year, after the party lost the May 2019 election to the BJP. The party returned itself to the temprary care of Sonia Gandhi and has not indicated if it will call an election, or any other exercise, to find a new leader.
Asked whether Rahul Gandhi was still the best bet for the Congress, Khurshid conceded the point but behind a smokescreen of Congresspeak. "We have all said that. It is now written in stone, it is clear. But if we accept him as our leader, let us give him the choice of decision making and the timing of it. Why do we want to impose (our views) on him?"
Asked whether there was a dominant view within the Congress that Gandhi must come back, he said there was. "But it was embarrassing to continue repeating it because if you do believe that he is a leader, you need to leave some decisions to him, not impose the timing. Let him take a decision," the former Union minister said.
"He (Gandhi) said he is not going away and he has not gone away. He is still here. If he does not have a label because he does not want to use that label today. Let's respect him for it and we have done so," Khurshid said.
The senior leader from UP insisted Gandhi remains the top leader in the Congress, nobody else is. The fact that parties opposing the Congress continue to attack him more than anyone else is proof of that.
Asked if the Gandhi family remains the fulcrum of the Congress, he said that it is a fact that cannot be wished away. "Nobody says, and least of all the Gandhi family says, that democratic processes should not be allowed to evolve in the party. Democratic processes are evolving in the party. But the position they hold historically, is the position that is acknowledged and accepted by huge numbers of Congress workers, that is a fact you cannot shut your eyes to," he said.
Asked about the dynasty factor that has been the main point of attack by the BJP, Khurshid said, "Tell me one party that does not have dynasties. I am not saying dynasties are good, but dynasties are a fact, not just in politics, but in the media, in police, in judiciary, in Bollywood, in administration, in universities You can't just single out one single area and say 'there should be no dynasties here'."...