Congress in doldrums: Five likely scenarios amid CWC brainstorm

The party’s highest decision-making body, the Congress Working Committee begins its meeting in the backdrop of several uncertainties

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Congress Party flag / Representational Image

The leadership crisis within the Congress brought about by a sizeable and influential section of the party demanding an “active and visible” leader has apparently led Sonia Gandhi offering to quit as Interim President. The party’s highest decision-making body, the Congress Working Committee begins its meeting in the backdrop of several uncertainties.

The unprecedented turmoil has come almost a year after Sonia was elected to the post following Rahul Gandhi’s steadfast refusal to lead the party following its severe drubbing in the last year’s Lok Sabha elections in May. The grand old party since then has looked doddering along as an ailing Sonia has frequently faced voices of dissent.

Meanwhile, her daughter, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, too, has let it be known she would not accept the top post and that she was happy being the general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh, a state which sends most MPs to the Lok Sabha and where the Congress has all but disappeared.

The prospects of the party minus the Gandhi family are difficult to predict — the situation is akin to 1999 when Sharad Pawar, now the NCP boss, had walked out over Sonia’s “foreign origin.” The party is all but vertically split – between the Gandhi loyalists and those demanding change in the leadership following “drift and decline” of the party.

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Amid this confusion, there could be five possible scenarios, as the CWC brainstorms:

Scenario 1: The CWC may be forced to appoint an interim chief and go in for party polls, involving an electoral college. A team could be formed to guide the party on organizational polls;

Scenarios 2: A non-Gandhi party chief is selected through polls or a consensus; in the meantime, Rahul takes over as interim chief;

Scenario 3: ‘Pro-reform’ leaders such as Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Veerappa Moily, Kapil Sibal, Mukul Wasnik, Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari are among 300 signatories to a letter demanding a change in leadership. The CWC may choose one of them as an interim arrangement. Meanwhile, a campaign could be launched by the young brigade backing Rahul to the top post. This looks easier said than done, given the serious difference of opinion between the two sides. The move must have the active support of Rahul.

Scenario 4: The CWC puts off the leadership decision pending Bihar polls amid concerns that “ad hoc changes” would only damage the party’s prospects in a crucial Hindi-speaking state. The allies of the so-called ‘mahagathbandhan’ led by Lalu Prasad’s RJD, would only become more demanding, though at present, the Congress is not as powerful as it used to be in the state;

Scenario 5: The CWC ends up severely admonishing the “dissidents” and harps on party discipline, citing “threat to democracy, secularism and damage to the federal structure.” This would have to take into account how strong the present “rebellion” is, whether the “pro-reform” leaders really have the strength to divide the party or whether they can form a new party. The “dissidents” have not criticized the Gandhi family as such, so the chances are most of them would fall in line. But again, that would be an interim arrangement as the “old guard” in the party is now fully conscious of the chorus getting louder for a leadership change.

Related News: Find an alternate Congress chief, Sonia tells colleagues at CWC

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