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Shashi Tharoor speaks out on President-mukt Congress, suggests democratic ‘elections’ in a party which epitomises dynasty politics

If elections take place to elect the new party president, it would be the first time in decades Congress will have elections to elect the top post.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has said that delay in ‘electing’ a new party president has hurt the party. He said that not having a top leadership gives an impression of drift and indecision.

Tharoor said that some ‘very well known names’ have told him the same thing but haven’t gone public with their views. He even suggested a plan of action on what the Congress could do till the new President is ‘elected’. Tharoor suggested an interim president could be appointed to start with, or at least get someone who is authorised to take decisions. “So if somebody like Goa opposition leader leaves with most of the party, someone should be there to stop, persuade, argue, to do something rather than it just happening,” he said.

Tharoor further added how during the Karnataka crisis where the Congress-JD(S) government collapsed last week, there was no national leader helping Congress leader DK Shivakumar. “It’s important to open up the process because right now, a lot of people are losing faith in us because of what has happened,” Tharoor said.

In an even more surprising move, Tharoor actually called for an election to elect the party president. In December 2017, Rahul Gandhi was elected the party president ‘unopposed’. Tharoor suggested that elections be held within the party where the AICC or PCC members could be asked to vote for the next president. If that happens, it would be the first time in decades the party will have elections to elect the party president.

Prior to Rahul Gandhi, his mother Sonia Gandhi held the top post in the party which she got after Sitaram Kesri was unceremoniously removed from the post. 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.

Congress has been without a party president since Rahul Gandhi resigned from the top post after the 2019 general elections debacle. Rahul not only lost the ‘family seat’ of Amethi to BJP’s Smriti Irani but could not even help revive the party which was again contained at 52 MPs. Rahul Gandhi had chosen to contest from the ‘safe seat’ Wayanad, from where he won. However, the victory had little in it for him to celebrate.

Following his resignation, first his supporters protested and senior leaders tried to persuade him to take back his resignation. Then Rahul was a little upset that only he resigned but other senior leaders in the party continued to hold their posts as district and state presidents. So then even they resigned. Some Congress leaders also hinted that they are eager to help revive the party.

Amidst all this, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, bats for democracy in a party that has thrived and flourished only on dynasty.

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