New Delhi: A change of leadership could soon to be on the cards for the Indian National Congress party. Recently, party president Sonia Gandhi hinted at making Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the new working president.
On August 8, towards the end of Congress Working Committee (CWC) that discussed the issue of 75th anniversary of the Quit India Movement, Mrs Gandhi quietly broached the subject of the change of guard with some senior leaders, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — wondering aloud if Priyanka Gandhi should be made Working President of the party, reported the DNA.
A final decision on the future of the party is expected to be taken in the next one month or so.
"It wasn't a casual question. She clearly had something on her mind. There is lot of merit in this move, if it happens," observed a CWC member.
Mrs Gandhi's suggestion has received strong support from senior leadership.
Priyanka Gandhi's spokesperson, however, refuted the rumours.
Complete fabrication. No such discussion took place whatsoever: Priyanka Gandhi's PA P Sahay to ANI on reports of her being Cong working Pres
— ANI (@ANI) August 14, 2017
Over the last few years, there has been a strong demand within the party that Priyanka be given a formal role. The Gandhi family has repeatedly sidestepped the issue. On her part, Priyanka has restricted herself, politically that is, to the Gandhi family bastions of Amethi and Rae Barelli.
Sources present in the meeting shared with Zee Media that Sonia told the select few that if the party wants to put up a credible show in the next Lok Sabha elections, a young face would have to assume control and manage the affairs of the party, including strategising with senior leaders.
Party vice-president Rahul Gandhi – who many consider to be the next Congress president– did not attend the meeting since he's suffering from viral fever.
While Rahul's elevation as party president has been the subject of intense speculation in the party folds, many consider Priyanka being the face of the party to the run up to the 2019 general elections could rejuvenate the struggling.
"Whether we want to admit it or not, the truth is that the Gandhi family is the glue that binds this party. Even when a member of the family wasn't at the forefront, like when PV Narasimha Rao was Prime Minister or when Sitaram Kesari was party president, the shadow of the family always loomed large. Despite attempts to malign the name of the family, there is little doubt that the Gandhis have a connect with voters in large parts of the country," observed a senior Congress MP and a former minister.
Since 2014, when Narendra Modi led the BJP to a spectacular victory in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has witnessed a steady departure of several prominent state-level leaders.
Many in the party also suggest that the reason for the absence of an effective game-plan to counter the Modi juggernaut is the sharp divide between the thought process of Team Rahul and the Old Guard represented by the likes of Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad and many state satraps.
While some who don't enjoy much support within the party or even among common voters have talked of looking beyond the Nehru-Gandhi family to revive the party, this line of thinking hasn't found any traction within the Congress.