It has been months after the 2019 general elections and months after Rahul Gandhi resigned from Congress presidentship. The grand old party is still without an official party president, Sonia Gandhi continues to be the interim president.
While a few leaders from Rahul Gandhi’s camp wants him back as president if Sonia Gandhi does not want to carry on as interim president, the syndicate of Sonia Gandhi’s coterie think otherwise.
In what could be seen as an effort to lay the groundwork for bringing Rahul back at the helm of affairs, Congress leader Ashok Gehlot has jumped in support of the senior party leader Rahul Gandhi saying that if anyone could challenge PM Modi it ought to be Rahul Gandhi.
In an interview to PTI, Gehlot said Rahul Gandhi is the only opposition leader who can counter Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah “courageously and fearlessly”.
Describing the Gandhi family as the “cementing force” for the 134-year-old party and rejecting the charge that it practised dynastic politics, the Rajasthan CM said that Rahul Gandhi has to come to the forefront despite the party’s drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls as he is the only alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Praising the entitled prince who chose to quit as Congress president after his party’s poor performance in the April-May Lok Sabha polls, Gehlot said Gandhi raised key issues related to farmers, youth, employment and inflation during the campaign.
“It is wrong to say that there is no alternative leadership to Modi. Rahul Gandhi is an alternative. It is true that people could not connect with him since Modi’s style and approach is different,” said the Rajasthan chief minister, known as one of the staunchest Gandhi family loyalists.
Gandhi worked so hard for the 2017 Gujarat polls that people felt the BJP will lose, he said.
“But, Modi ran a sentimental campaign, misconstrued Mani Shankar Aiyar’s comments (his derogatory remarks against Modi following which he was suspended from the Congress), travelled in a seaplane. He can do anything to win elections,” Gehlot said.
Rahul Gandhi campaigned extensively for the Lok Sabha polls and before that for the Gujarat elections, he noted.
It is pertinent to note here, that according to journalist Rasheed Kidwai, Rahul Gandhi is rarely sought as a poll campaigner, and his own defeat in Amethi in Lok Sabha election is a big negative for his image among the party workers.
In his article in The Tribune, the journalist said that the top leadership of the party is clearly divided into two camps, one belonging to Rahul and the other is the set of loyalists belonging to his mother. He writes that Rahul’s style of functioning is not liked by most Congress leaders.
While many within the party have been resisting Rahul to once again become the party’s face, Ashok Gehlot, probably belonging to Rahul’s camp, went on to say: the core issues of farmers, youth, employment, inflation, raised by Gandhi during the Lok Sabha polls were overshadowed by surgical strikes and ‘narrative around nationalism’.
Despite Rahul’s repeated lies on the Rafale deal, Gehlot said in his support: “Rahul Gandhi only asked why procurement of Rafale jets was brought down from 126 to 36 and why the price was raised from Rs 526 crore to Rs 1,600 crore per jet”.
Meanwhile, journalist Rasheed Kidwai notes that Rahul Gandhi relied on lies during the election campaign, and the party leaders are not very happy about it. He writes that “from Rafale to Doklam, Rahul’s allegations lacked facts, figures and details.” Kidwai also notes that “Rahul miserably failed to influence undecided voters, disgruntled farmers and millions of those who make up their voting decision closer in the 2019 General Election.”
On the issue of the Congress being a Nehru-Gandhi family-centric party, Gehlot said the BJP’s agenda has been to try and damage his party leaders so that the organisation collapses, but this has not happened.
“The Gandhi family is the cementing force for the party. If the party’s rank and file have trust and faith in the family, why should the BJP have any objection?” he asked.
How much ever hard Rahul’s coterie tries to project him as the deserving face of the Congress party, writing in Tribune India, Kidwai narrated the internal thoughts of the country on the matter of president.
According to him, Sonia Gandhi is emulating Indira Gandhi in many ways, including promoting her son in politics. But unlike Sanjay and Rajiv Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi has not become the most acceptable leader withing the Congress party, let alone among the voters.