Senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar hinted at the possibility of a non-Gandhi president of Congress Party, however, asserting that the Nehru-Gandhi family must remain active within the party. “I am sure we can survive if we have to without a Nehru-Gandhi as the titular head of the party, provided the Nehru-Gandhis remain active in the party and can help resolve a crisis in case serious differences arise”, Aiyar said.
He said that Rahul Gandhi has given the party one month’s time to decide on the question of the party President. “Rahul has given a month to the party to find a replacement and there have been confabulations within the Congress over the issue with the feeling in the party overwhelmingly in favour of Rahul staying on”, he said.
He added that it would be best if the present Congress President Rahul Gandhi continued to hold the post but his wishes must be respected. “It would be best that Rahul Gandhi remains Party chief, but at the same time, Rahul’s own wishes must also be respected”, said Aiyar.
Calling the slogan of Gandhi-mukt Congress a trap of the BJP, Aiyar said that it is not a matter of personalities. “I don’t think it is a matter of personalities. I know it is the objective of the BJP to have a Gandhi-mukt Congress so as to have a Congress-mukt Bharat. I don’t think we should be falling into the trap of thinking that they have discovered something that we are not able to discover” he said.
Expressing hope for the comeback of his party Aiyar called it the natural leader of the ‘Idea of India Movement’. “I have every confidence that whether with Rahul Gandhi at the helm or somebody else, the party will fight back and resume in the fulness of time its position as the natural leader of what I call the Idea of India Movement”, said Aiyar.
Rejecting the expression ‘soft Hindutva’ Aiyar admitted that the hesitation in using the word secularism shows a lack of confidence in the idea of secularism. “I reject the expression ‘soft Hindutva’ because I don’t believe the Congress has moved in that direction of becoming a soft Hindutva party, but it is clear that the absence and hesitation in using the word secularism and trying to find synonyms like pluralism indicate a certain want of confidence and conviction in the idea of secularism”, he observed.
Aiyar was suspended by the Congress Party in 2017 after he made an extremely derogatory remark against PM Modi calling him “Neech Insaan” (low life). However, his suspension was revoked by the party last year.