The Yuvraj (Prince)- Rahul Gandhi is all set to take over as the Congress President by December 11 next, after he filed his nomination papers on December 4, 2017 for the post amid opposition jibes over dynasty politics in a contest with no one else in the fray. The Congress Carders across the nation have welcomed the new dispensation, with the hope of once again muscling back to power at the Centre under the vision of a young leader giving a new breath of air to All India Congress Committee (AICC), particularly the hierarchy system such that internal working system could be streamlined.
The desk has been cleared for the 47-year-old Gandhi, who will be the sixth Nehru-Gandhi scion to lead the party, after he filed the first set of papers at the Congress headquarters. His mother and incumbent party President Sonia Gandhi signed the first nomination paper for election of her son. In all over 90 sets of nominations were said to have been filed supporting Rahul before the deadline expired at 3 p.m. on December 11 next, last date for withdrawal, he may be declared elected on the same day since there is no contest. Scrutiny of the nomination will take place by next day.
Rahul, who became the Congress Vice President in January 2013, will succeed his mother Sonia, the longest serving Congress chief who has led the party since 1998. He is the sixth in the Gandhi-Nehru family to head the party after his great great grandfather Motilal Nehru, great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, grandmother Indira Gandhi and father Rajiv Gandhi.
The only difference is that he is taking over the regime where the Congress is in the Opposition in the Parliament, while most of the states are not performing well due to the Anti-incumbency of Congress, and crucial Gujarat Assembly Election- the home tuff of Prime Minister, Narendra Damodardas Modi.
Rahul should introspect the functional system of the AICC as there are various demands for an Organizational Revamp in the party. The advisory board is likely to be modelled on the National Advisory Council of the UPA government in the past had made few recommendations to the AICC as well as state units. Sources have said that the formation of the advisory board will be a clear signal the party is moving towards Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as President of the AICC as a first move for change.
It may be recalled that the proposed National Advisory Council was headed by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. Other members include senior leaders P. Chidambaram, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Sushil Kumar Shinde and other experts. The Council is supposed to make recommendations to the All India Congress Committee (AICC) and state committees on various public issues after discussions. There are experts and activists who wish to contribute with their knowledge on crucial issues but do not wish to be identified with a particular party.
On the other hand, as Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi attempted to empower district unit chiefs, who play a vital role in mobilizing support for the party at the grassroots, his desires to strengthen the district committees and empowered the carders. At present many district presidents owe their appointments to powerful state leaders. Rahul wants decisive people as district chiefs who can take decisions on their own, but for this he need to re-look into the hierarchy system of AICC.
The Congress party has over the last year seen some of its satraps leave and join the Bharatiya Janata Party, Former Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma joined the BJP last year whereas former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna joined the BJP last month. Meanwhile, Congress is facing uncertainty over the elevation of Rahul Gandhi as the party chief and there is still no final word on its timing, because most quarters felt that it is time for Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to take up full time politics and take up the mantle from her mother Sonia Gandhi who has steered the party for 18 years. This year many of the senior Congress Leaders in Meghalaya too have left the Congress, and will seek re-election from other parties.
It may be noted here that Himanta while a Congress member was not only instrumental in bringing the Assam Congress to power; his contribution to the neighbouring states too is evident, including Meghalaya. He was most visible during the tussle between Assam and Meghalaya over the Langpih issue since 2008. It is suspected that this was his game plan to destabilize the Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) government, a conglomerate of non-Congress parties. The second display of his political prowess was the toppling of the Dr D D Lapang government in the year 2010.
He is not only known for his articulation and execution of plans and programmes for the party. His skills to raise party funds too were appreciated even by the High Command. His exit from the Congress hopefully will not be like other veteran leaders who have now lost their charm in the mist of political uncertainty. Once again using the same card, he has now helped the BJP to storm into power and form the first BJP government in Assam.
Politicians from the North East who chose to start afresh include former Lok Sabha Speaker, late Purno Agitok Sangma who was a co-founder of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). He was also a member of Mamata Banerjee’s AITMC/TMC. His political career would have soared higher admit political pundits if he would have remained with the Congress. Some even opine that he would have been the 13th President of India instead of Pranab Kumar Mukherjee.
Many other leaders who after reaching the peak of their political career in the Congress find it suffocating and have expressed their disapproval of the hierarchy system within the AICC, where many good leaders fail to gain entry into the sanctum sanctorum of the planning committee or the think tank of the party. Many others who were in a hurry to reach the top had parted ways with the Congress in various instances while very few have managed to stage a comeback.
The political pundits had on many occasions attributed the success of the BJP in the 2014 election to professional media management and the whip of the party, where all the leaders were particular in the colours they dressed in for campaigning, the usage of words and more so carried the image of a united party unlike the Indian National Congress (INC), where the party hierarchy has relegated many aspiring leaders to bench warmers.
Meghalaya will be going for General Assembly Election few months from now. The incumbent Congress Government of Dr Mukul M Sangma can feel the heat, as many Congress legislators started to raise their voices for a change of leadership, before the state goes for General Election in 2018.
It will be worth watching how Himanta will once again put in his wits to create yet another political ripple to destabilize the Meghalaya Government, more so in the wake of the humiliating rout the Congress party suffered in the recently concluded by elections to the Tura Parliamentary seat.
This loss resulted in a backlash as Congress MLAs expressed their dissatisfaction with Dr Sangma. Some of the MLAs have even criticized his policies, and were unhappy as the AICC had never attended to the political crisis in Meghalaya. Hence, the proposed National Advisory Council of Congress should revoke the hierarchy system if they want to be called a democratic party of India.