Congress faces leadership, rebranding challenges
Post Haryana and Maharashtra assembly results, Congress stares at the challenges it is facing currently due to the absence of a senior stalwart after Rahul Gandhi resigned. An early and durable solution to the leadership conundrum is a must .
But Congress stares at the challenge of leadership and narrative, both of which it has lost after the Lok Sabha disaster. Without these crutches, it cannot hope to emerge from the morass of defeat to be a genuine rival to BJP.
Congress will soon be faced with the question of stewardship. Rahul Gandhi’s resignation after the LS rout resulted in Sonia Gandhi’s return to the helm in a holding operation. Party leaders have repeatedly said, “It is a temporary arrangement.”
The void at the top was evident during the assembly polls as Sonia could not campaign in Haryana and Maharashtra. If Congress managed a decent performance in Haryana, it was because Sonia did what Rahul had refused to do for a couple of years — overhaul Haryana Congress. It was done just over a month ahead of polls and a timely action could have seen a different result.
In Maharashtra, the Congress campaign was left to ally and old war horse, NCP chief Sharad Pawar. Interestingly, Mumbai saw Congress embroil itself in a comedy of errors, with change of guard during LS polls and again during assembly polls.
For insiders, an early and durable solution to the leadership conundrum is a must .
Rahul’s return as party president seems the most likely scenario but this time, it is argued, it would have to be “stable” and without the demographic fires — “old vs young” — which have distracted Congress lately.
What has heartened the opposition is the limited pull of “muscular nationalism” that PM Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah pedalled during the campaign.
But Congress would have to rebrand itself with a face and narrative to position itself as a credible and viable alternative. Just banking on popular unrest against BJP will not take it too far.