Congress president Rahul Gandhi made his resignation final last week in a “farewell letter,” which could set the stage for a major churn in the party involving possible resignations of officebearers, reconstitution of the working committee and the installation of a new party chief. Rahul’s detailed letter slammed the lid on speculation that he might be persuaded to reconsider the decision he announced at a meeting of the CWC on May 25 in the aftermath of a second successive defeat to BJP, with the party winning just 52 Lok Sabha seats.
The Congress leader said the party needs a “radical transformation” to fight BJP. While owning responsibility for the mauling, Rahul Gandhi lamented that he at times fought a lone and personal battle against BJP-RSS and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, repeating an insinuation he made at the CWC meeting. His reference to the need for sweeping changes and that “numerous people” should also be held accountable seems to indicate a call for a purge or a version of the “Kamraj plan” where senior leaders voluntarily follow suit. “The consequence of Rahul Gandhi’s resignation should be resignations of office-bearers and the constitution of a new CWC,” said a senior party leader.
A party source said PCCs and AICC do not need to be dissolved and will be expected to endorse the new CWC as and when it is constituted. Senior leaders did not rule out a successor being chosen by consensus and deliberations, but said the party constitution pointed to a certain process. “What method will be adopted remains to be seen. Party seniors and current CWC can decide,” said a leader. In his letter, Rahul wrote, “It is a habit in India that the powerful cling to power, no one sacrifices power. But we will not defeat our opponents without sacrificing the desire for power and fighting a deeper ideological battle.”
Cong fought entire machinery of Indian state: Rahul
Rahul Gandhi said he had already suggested that a group of people be entrusted with the task of searching for a new president. “I have empowered them to do so and committed my full support to this process and a smooth transition,” he said. The letter blames a capture of all institutions by the BJP-RSS machinery and does not in any way acknowledge that Congress’ campaign may have missed the mark with its attacks on Modi over Rafale and the “activist” orientation of the party manifesto with its promises to do away with the sedition law and dilute the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, as suggested by some party seniors. In fact, he suggested that elections will become a ritual from now on.
Now, AICC general secretary in charge of organisation will convene a CWC meeting to accept Rahul’s resignation and pick the new party leader, as laid down by the AICC constitution. Rahul revealed he had rebuffed inhouse suggestions to nominate a successor, adding he trusts the party seniors to take the best decision about who can “lead us with courage, love and fidelity”.
The four-page letter trained focus on the post-May 25 leadership vacuum in Congress as Rahul made it plain that he was not the party boss. But for him to make the public announcement after 42 days suggests that Congress may have moved to clinch the succession issue though there is no overt indicator of this. Soon after releasing the letter, Rahul also changed his status on Twitter from “president of Congress” to “member of Congress/MP”. He clarified that he would continue in Congress.