The Return Of Sonia Gandhi: What It Tells Us About The Congress
The Indian National Congress has again handed over the reins of the party to Sonia Gandhi in the midst of a leadership crisis.
The Congress Working Committee—the top decision making body of the party—named Sonia Gandhi as Congress interim president on Saturday. What does the party hope for Sonia to deliver after its drubbing in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections?
Senior Journalist Arati Jerath expects Sonia Gandhi to play the role of a night watchman and keep the seat warm till either one of her children is ready to take charge. “The party operates on dynastic levers and cannot do without the Gandhi family. The family will not let go of the party ever,” Jerath said. “I don’t see them allowing somebody else to become the mascot of the party or rebuilding the party organisation.”
The recent debate on Jammu & Kashmir’s Reorganisation and Article 370 showed signs of dissent between the old guard and the new guard of the party. Leaders like Milind Deora and Jyotiraditya Scindia came out in support of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government’s decision to scrap Article 370, voicing a stand opposite to the Congress party leadership.
Can young dissenters in the party rise to the top in the face of a crisis? Senior journalist and political commentator Madhavan Narayanan said the Gandhi family will hold the reins from behind the curtain, no matter what the crisis. “The family ensures through its loyalists that at some point a compromise candidate who is pliable and viable to the family is brought in.”
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor recently pointed out the need for new leadership. But can any Congress leader come out in the open and say that the party needs to move on from the Gandhi family and risk losing the loyalty tag?
According to Narayan Lakshman, Associate editor at The Hindu, the Congress’s obsession with dynasty is like alcoholism. “Digitally savvy leaders like Shashi Tharoor come all the way to the brink of saying that we need a change and a break from the past and are somehow unable to actually put it into words and say that the family’s grip on the party has to be loosened to encourage the next generation of the leadership to come up,” Lakshman said. “Why not have the guts to say that?”
Dynastic politics is deeply institutionalised within the DNA of all Congress leaders and that will only change if the family itself graciously steps back, Lakshman said, adding that it will not only involve changing the ideology of the party but also involve handing over the keys to the safe, something that he does not see happening in the near future.
Watch the full discussion here: