It was heartening to see Congress president Rahul Gandhi, in an informal media interaction last Thursday, underline the value of "accountability" in the context of the choice of leader to succeed him as party chief.
If the spirit of the change he is urging were to become real, the Congress will have the opportunity to wrestle with itself and emerge with clarity eventually. This is likely to help it on the road to revival and recovery.
It is positive to see that Mr Gandhi has not budged from his stance of nearly a month ago when he spelt out his intention to resign in the CWC meeting of May 25, two days after the Lok Sabha election result. It is now evident that the Gandhi scion was not indulging in "drama" and would revise his stand under supposed popular demand, as sceptics thought.
However, in tactical terms, Mr Gandhi, who is still the party chief, will probably be making a mistake if he refuses to have a hand in guiding the party in the direction of the change that he desires. His current stance that he will not have a hand in the choice of his successor as president looks seriously flawed. It is likely to cause injury to the cause he appears to espouse.
On May 25, Mr. Gandhi struck out against dynasty and demanded accountability from himself, and from others. This is the right note to register if the search for renewal is to commence in right earnest. Today, if he backs off from the selection process for the new Congress leader, as he has threatened to do, he will be unwittingly permitting the status quoists to carry on as though nothing has happened.
Several names of aspirants for the job have come up in the media. None seems deserving and inspires confidence. All are from products of the old patronage system or from those chasing the dynasty dream. The only way Mr Gandhi can help bring about change course is by being part of the process to guide the change.
Keepers of the old order in the Congress hate to see Mr Gandhi go. If he sticks around, they are free to ply the patronage trade without compunction. But if he must depart in accordance with his own intense wish, then they would be happiest if he excused himself from the selection process for the next president, or even a collegium. Only then can they continue to influence decision-making and perpetuate the old system.
If Mr Gandhi is serious about democratising the Congress and bringing about perestroika, he must remain in the driver’s seat and see the process through. Selecting the Congress leader in the Lok Sabha was a masterstroke. Choice of a similar nature for an interim or ad hoc party chief as a prelude to genuine elections through the AICC mechanism suggests itself.