Rahul Gandhi’s remark to the media on Wednesday that he was no longer Congress president had an air of finality about it. This was confirmed hours later in his four-page Twitter note, making the matter as public as can be.
As he departs, Mr Gandhi leaves the impression that he is an honourable man, and that he’s also a moral man, one who doesn’t flinch from a fight he deems just, and one who likes to stand up for his principles even if he must stand alone. He specifically spoke of this when he said in his Twitter rreflections that in the recent Lok Sabha election campaign he had the feeling at times that he was fighting the RSS and the state machinery alone.
Mr Gandhi’s July 3 Twitter jotting has already become a historical document. It reflects on the need for the Congress to “radically transform itself” in order to be the “instrument” to “resuscitate” the institutions whose takeover by the RSS the former party chief believes to be now “complete”. He assigns the Congress the role to unite the country for the retrieval of the institutions of democracy.
Even in miserable defeat, the Congress notched a 30 per cent voteshare in the recent Lok Sabha polls, a rise of three per cent in contrast with the BJP’s rise of six per cent. But these numbers hardly tell the real story — that the Congress today is an enfeebled party that has structurally come apart due to corpulent times that were also corrupt times where those who flourished did so on account of an inner culture of patronage and clique politics, in which the worker on the ground suffered long-term neglect.
It has to be seen if the Congress rises to the expectations Mr Gandhi has set. This is unlikely to be an easy task. There are vested interests to be considered. The Gandhi scion’s exit as president and his taking responsibility for the election defeat signal his fidelity to the notion of “accountability”.
His note says others too should take responsibility and that he couldn’t ask them to do so if he didn’t himself quit his position. Clinging to power is the malady that he is trying to cure his party of. But he might have done this better if he had chosen to be a part of the decision-making in the choice of interim leader and in laying down the roadmap for the search of a proper successor. He states blandly that he “authorised” the Congress Working Committee on June 25 to constitute a search committee to home in on the new president.
How the Congress goes about finding a successor to Rahul Gandhi is clearly uncertain. All that Mr Gandhi promises for now is that he will remain a part of the struggle for change. But the times ahead are certainly rocky....