Sushil Kumar Shinde, a popular Dalit leader from Maharashtra may soon be the face of Congress, reports suggest. Rahul Gandhi reiterated his stance once again on Monday that he would not take back his resignation amidst indications that Shinde may replace the Gandhi scion.
It is widely believed that after the unexpected victory of 2004, Sonia Gandhi chose Dr Manmohan Singh to run the UPA government since she was facing resistance. It was speculated that to make sure allies like NCP, which had broken away from Congress on Sonia Gandhi’s foreign citizenship find it easier to support the Congress, Dr Singh was picked up as the face of the government. It seems like Rahul Gandhi could also be using similar tactics after the not-so-unexpected 2019 poll defeat.
The Gandhi family has reportedly agreed on Shinde’s name after another veteran AK Antony declined the offer to lead the party citing health conditions. Last time Congress had a non-Gandhi President was between 1996-1998 when Sitaram Kesri he grand old party before he was unceremoniously removed to make way for Sonia Gandhi.
In December 1997 Sonia Gandhi joined Congress formally and addressed her first election rally in Tamil Nadu. Soon, Sitaram Kesri, who was the Congress party president, was being forced to step down to make way for Sonia Gandhi to become the party president.
On March 14, 1998, Congress Working Committee decided to ask Kesri to step down so Sonia could take over. He was reportedly locked up in the bathroom at Congress headquarters in Akbar Road so he could not stop Sonia from entering the office with her supporters to take over as party president.
Interestingly, INC’s official website also didn’t mention him as one of the past presidents. After it was pointed out by OpIndia, Congress updated its website.
The other names which are doing the rounds as plausible options to replace Rahul were Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Gehlot, Mallikarjun Kharge, Janardhan Dwivedi and Mukul Wasnik. However, Shinde emerged as the probable winner for the post as he is considered to be close to the Gandhi family since 1971 and a well-known Dalit face in poll-bound Maharashtra.