New Delhi: After receiving the worst drubbing of its electoral history in 2014 parliamentary elections, the top leadership of Congress is mulling over how to boost the sagging morale of the rank and file of the party. What has added to their worries is the fact that all Assembly elections held after 2014 Lok Sabha polls have gone against the grand old party.
Senior leaders of Congress may be divided in their analysis of what really went wrong with the party in these elections but they are unanimous in their conclusion that it's only the ascendance of Rahul Gandhi to the top post that can check the decline. The string of electoral losses, according to them, has further necessitated the early anointment of Rahul Gandhi as the President of the 129 year old party.
The veterans of the party are now asking the question – when, if not now? They are of the opinion that since Rahul has been very carefully groomed for the top post, first as Congress general secretary and then as the party vice-president, he should waste no time in taking over the mantle of the party. They wonder that if he is the only heir apparent, as Sonia Gandhi desires, what is stopping him from coming out in open and lead the party.
What has also necessitated the change of leadership is the poor health of Sonia Gandhi who has become the longest serving president of Congress with a non-stop 17 years stint. The responsibility seems to have taken its toll. Since Sonia is suffering from a serious but undisclosed ailment, she is not in a position to spend enough time for party work with her regular foreign trips abroad for medical check-ups.
Congress party's top-line leadership is of the opinion that Rahul should take over the baton and start preparing for 2019 Lok Sabha elections. They are of the opinion that if Rahul takes over now, he'll have a full 4 years to position himself as a credible alternative to Narendra Modi.
In fact, if some media reports are to be believed, the party leadership has finally decided to elevate Rahul Gandhi to the top post.
According to these reports, Rahul's anointment can take place as early as March or April this year. If it does not happen in March-April then the elevation will take place in July-August during plenary session of AICC.
The top leadership believes that stage will be set for Rahul to take over as Congress president in March-April as Narendra Modi-led NDA government will also have completed almost an year in office by that time and its honeymoon period would also be over. The party can call a special session of AICC to announce the anointment of Rahul Gandhi as the new party president.
If the plan fails to materialize in March-April then the party will make the announcement in the plenary session of AICC slated forJuly-August.
Rahul Gandhi, in all probability, will be anointed as Congress party president in 2015 but can he write a new success story for a party whose rank and file feels abysmally demoralized after a string of electoral drubbings?