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Non-Gandhi chief may be new power centre

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As nominations for electing a new Congress president begin today, the Gandhi family has left little doubt that no one from among them would be in the fray—and Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot has their blessings as a candidate. If elected, which appears certain, Gehlot will join the illustrious league of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, Vallabhbhai Patel, Abul Kalam Azad, and Indira Gandhi, among others who headed the party in the past.

For the last five decades, since Indira Gandhi’s ascension to the top, the Congress has remained in the hands of the Gandhi family, barring a few short stints. Sonia Gandhi has held the party reins for over two decades. This has resulted in the Gandhis being accused of pursuing dynastic politics. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made ‘dynasty versus a common man’ his pet political platform. It has given him rich dividends. A chaiwaala taking on the privileged Gandhis was a theme that saw the teeming millions aligning themselves with the underdog, giving him a huge success. It is not out of any sense of sacrifice that the Gandhis have decided to give up the top party job. The changing political calculus has forced them to step back—a strategic retreat.

But the façade of holding a fair organisational election blew up even before Gehlot could file his nomination, with the family insisting on getting him to give up the chief ministership in lieu of its backing. Gehlot is keen on keeping the chief ministership. But Rahul Gandhi has insisted that the party would follow the principle of one-man-one-post.

This makes it clear where real power still lies in the Congress. With actions like this, the family would continue to face the allegation of backseat driving and running the party through their proxy. 

The election of a non-Gandhi, however, is sure to create another power centre in the party. A vast number of Congress workers would be able to meet and interact with their president. This would make them feel involved in the decision-making and has the potential to galvanise the party. Poll strategist Prashant Kishor had famously told the Gandhis that 65% of the country’s district Congress presidents had not met the party president. Gehlot’s arrival at the helm would open the party president’s doors for Congress functionaries. (AIR NEWS)

73 Days ago