To find out what one is fitted to do, and to secure an opportunity to do it, is the key to happiness.
– John Dewey
The BJP’s massive victory in the Lok Sabha election has thrown the Congress into disarray. Contrary to expectations, the general election turned out to be virtually a no-contest between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress Party president Rahul Gandhi as it became a presidential-style battle. With the All India Congress Committee (AICC) president insisting that he does not want to continue to head the party, a big question mark has arisen about who would keep the party afloat. With the grand old party winning only 52 of 542 seats (eight more than its tally of 44 in 2014) – and failing to get a single seat in 13 out of 29 states, its future and that of the organisation’s president now hangs in the balance. Although Gandhi had made an impact on voters but it was not enough. The drubbing underscored the deepening irrelevance of the Nehru-Gandhi family in an India where the masses see BJP’s Modi as a messiah. A strong Opposition party led by a capable leader is as much a necessity as a strong government and prime minister for the continuance of a vibrant democracy. But the poll results rendered the grand old party ineligible to even stake its claim as the official opposition in Parliament, as it failed to win 10 per cent of seats in the House. Now, crores of voters of the country are also concerned about the future of the Congress party. After this debacle it is pretty much over to the Congress to decide if it wants to shield Gandhi, like they have done other times.
The scale of its losses not just crushed hopes the Congress Party would either lead a credible challenge to Modi or return as invigorated opposition – it once again raised questions over the leadership of the Gandhi family. Since May 25, when Gandhi offered to resign at a Congress working committee (CWC) meeting, he has gone into a shell. The big question is will he be allowed to go or persuaded to continue? Media reports give an indication that a section of the party feels that he should continue in the overall interest of the Congress. Equally strongly, the other section feels that his resignation should give a chance to someone outside the dynasty. The party recently decided to choose a person outside the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty as the leader of the party in the Lok Sabha. The Parliamentary core committee picked five-time MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, as the leader even though it was widely believed that the post would go to Gandhi.
For a start, the Congress should honour Rahul’s resignation and allow him to step down. There are experienced persons in the Congress who can head the party, and this time it can be somebody from the South, since southern states have stood by the Congress of late more than North and the West. The party has to find out another Adhir to head the party till next general elections.