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Congress, Gandhis face bigger functional trials

Names of senior Dalit leaders along with those of Ashok Gehlot and even Manmohan Singh, are doing the rounds as probable successor.

, ET Bureau|
Jul 04, 2019, 07.50 AM IST
It remains to be seen whether mother and sister will also express the desire to join Rahul in the rank of karyakartas.
New Delhi: The next two engagements of outgoing Congress president Rahul Gandhi will be personal appearances in courts in Maharashtra and Bihar, on Thursday and Saturday, respectively, in defamation cases filed by the RSS and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, respectively. Though symbolic of the larger trial the Congress and the Gandhis face, the cases will be child’s play when compared to the task the party and the Gandhis face in helping Congress begin a new life without a member of the first family at the helm for the first time since 1998.

AICC general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal told ET “in consultation with senior leaders, we will decide the next course of action.” Names of senior Dalit leaders Sushil Kumar Shinde, Mallikarjun Kharge, Mukul Wasnik and Meira Kumar — all Gandhi family loyalists and safe social choice for Congress — along with those of Ashok Gehlot and even Manmohan Singh are doing the rounds as probable successor to Gandhi. But “nothing has been finalised.

CWC may meet soon to take a call”, a party insider said. The CWC has also the option of appointing a person or a group of Congress working presidents and initiating organisational elections which will culminate with the election of a new Congress president, the insider said. While the party constitution says a senior-most AICC general secretary (Motilal Vora and Ghulam Nabi Azad in the present case) could discharge responsibilities of the party chief till the CWC names a new chief, no such arrangement has been made. There are also precedents of CWC straightaway appointing Kesri and Sonia Gandhi as president.

Congress circles are also speculating on whether the CWC will appeal to Priyanka Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi to take charge. “But Rahulji has made it clear in the last CWC meeting that a non-Gandhi should now lead the Congress,” recalled a party functionary.

It remains to be seen whether mother and sister will also express the desire to join Rahul in the rank of karyakartas. Indication of a larger drama unfolding could not be ruled out after several leaders, including Sachin Pilot, urged Rahul to reconsider his decision, while others like Ajay Maken asserted he would remain their supreme leader. A news agency report quoted Karnataka leader DK Shivakumar apprehending a split in Congress without a Gandhi at the helm. The Gandhis will face the challenge of resisting such temptations to free the party of dual power centres, as reported in Wednesday’s ET. Whether Rahul, his mother and sister will remain in CWC and whether Rahul will lead the campaign in the upcoming state polls will indicate the kind of functional arrangement the Congress will have.

Congress circles have also noted Rahul’s sense of grudge in his letter, where he made it clear that he expected more office-bearers to resign. The message that he will be available for guidance when the party required his services, may be an indication of an interesting sub-text for the future.
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