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2-min read

Old Guard or Young Turk: Who Will Take Over from Rahul Gandhi as Congress President?

At a late-evening meeting in the national capital attended by mostly seniors and a handful of juniors, the worry was clear. Many of the seniors were beginning to see the writing on the wall.

Pallavi Ghosh | CNN-News18_pallavighosh

Updated:July 6, 2019, 11:33 PM IST
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Old Guard or Young Turk: Who Will Take Over from Rahul Gandhi as Congress President?
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New Delhi: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s statement earlier on Saturday that Rahul Gandhi must be replaced by a young leader and the youth must be given a chance to woo young India put the party into a tizzy.

At a late-evening meeting in the national capital attended by mostly seniors and a handful of juniors, the worry was clear. Many of the seniors were beginning to see the writing on the wall.

The meeting was called to essentially discuss the Karnataka crisis where the Congress-Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) coalition government seemed to be falling apart. However, sources said the crisis within the party was also dwelt on. No decision was taken, because no one knew what to take a call on.

What became clear was that Singh said something that Gandhi would love to hear.

When he had first taken charge as vice-president, Gandhi was keen to hand over the reins of the party to young leaders. But such was the seniors' grip that Sonia Gandhi had to step in to tell her son to go slow and allow a balance between the old and new guard.

The only silver lining which the Congress and Rahul Gandhi saw in the defeat of 2019 was a chance to slowly ease out some of the seniors.

In fact, his stern and emotional resignation letter has made the point of leaders seeking to cling to power. The hint was everywhere, but not read. Sources said Gandhi was hurt by the fact that let alone resign, many didn’t even bother to offer to quit.

But Singh’s statement could change or force a change. Being a senior himself, his comment could make some of the seniors sheepish and force them to offer to go away.

But the real problem begins now: who will take over? And if it has to be someone young, who can that be? Will that person be heard by seniors? A meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) is expected next week where some steps towards selecting Gandhi's successor could be taken.

Another problem is that both Rahul and Sonia Gandhi have not been able to create a second line of leadership. Very few have mastered the skills of veterans like Ghulam Nabi Azad or Ahmed Patel.

Some options could be Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot who had delivered in the state election or AICC general secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia or even women Congress president Sushmita Dev. But then, not many may want to walk away into the sunset. Not many among the young leaders are said to be keen knowing very well that it will be tough to work in a party which works in strange and divisive ways.

| Edited by: Sohini Goswami
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