Rahul Gandhi to Take Over as Congress President Soon
Rahul's crowning, said by top sources in the party to be imminent, will end one of the most debated topics in Indian politics in recent times. It will also herald a generational shift in the Congress that is struggling for relevance following a series of electoral defeats.
Rahul Gandhi will soon be crowned as Congress president, bringing an end to a long running debate on what should be the perfect timing for his ascension to the top of India's Grand Old Party.
His crowning, said by top sources in the party to be imminent, will end one of the most debated topics in Indian politics in recent times. It will also herald a generational shift in the Congress that is struggling for relevance following a series of electoral defeats.
"You cannot have this confused twin leadership for long," said a top functionary, asking not to be identified.
Sources said Rahul's ascension as Congress president would be accompanied by an overhaul of party structures to populate them with younger people. Older party functionaries will be asked to step down and make way for a new order, they said.
The Congress' first family has been waiting for the right time for the coronation, but have now veered around to the view that doing it sooner is better.
But there exists deep divisions in the Congress on whether he should be appointed party president. Most of the seniors are uncomfortable with what some described as the Gandhi scion's brusque and impatient style of functioning, and want his mother to helm the Congress for some more time.
They have also long argued that Rahul, under whose effective charge the party has hurtled from one defeat to another, needs to be protected from electoral failures and making him the president would bring him directly in the line of opposition fire.
But the decision to go in for the change now, sources said, was dictated by the belief that status quo cannot continue and the Congress could no longer carry on with dual power centres. The older generations of Congress leaders view Sonia Gandhi as their leader, while the younger generation prefers Rahul who turns 46 in June.
Many say when they approach Sonia Gandhi with a problem she listens to them, but sends them to Rahul for solution. When they approach Rahul, he sends them back saying he would decide only after consulting his mother.
Top party functionaries said that the Gandhi family has begun to realise that such a situation couldn't work anymore, especially at a time the Congress is going through one of its worst periods in history. It won only 44 seats in the May 2014 elections, and since then has lost a string of state elections, most recently in Assam and Kerala.
Several senior Congress leaders have been calling for changes in recent days. Congress' leader in Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh unequivocally told CNN-News18 in an interview that it was time for Rahul to take over.
A few others have been even more vocal.
Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh, long considered to be close to Rahul, spoke about a need for "surgery" in the Congress after the party suffered humiliating defeats in the recent state elections.
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