As the Congress announced Sunday that it would hold a meeting of its Working Committee on August 10 to appoint a new president in place of Rahul Gandhi, the party’s leadership crisis took another turn with names of someone from outside the Gandhi family being suggested for the top post.
Former Union minister Milind Deora said on Sunday that he was of the view that “young leaders like Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia can lead and invigorate the party”. “My view is that the party must put its best foot forward. It is very clear now that a member of the Gandhi family will not become party president. They have made that amply clear. I think, based on interactions with workers and voters, there seems to be a general view that young leaders like Sachin Pilot or Jyotiraditya Scindia can lead and reinvigorate the party,” Deora told The Indian Express.
“I also believe that appointing either of them will end any ambiguity in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh about the party’s local leadership. This will further strengthen the governments of Ashok Gehlot and Kamal Nath,” he added.
Earlier, several leaders, including Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, had suggested that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra take over as the Congress president.
Others too spoke out. While Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor said the CWC should appoint an interim president and then hold internal elections to senior leadership positions which would allay all concerns, veteran leader Karan Singh said there must be a generational change. If the party can find a younger leader, “it would be good idea”, he told PTI. On Priyanka, Singh said, if she agrees, he would welcome her, and that she will be a “unifying force” and will enthuse cadres.
However, the elders in the Congress continue to hold out against the idea that the party needs a young leader. “What we require is somebody who can take the entire party along at this juncture and take to the people the party’s vision and philosophy,” a senior leader said on the condition of anonymity.
Many were guarded. “Milind Deora has expressed his opinion. In the Congress, everyone has the right to put forth their views. I am a member of the Working Committee. Since the date of the Working Committee has been announced, it will be only appropriate that I place my views before the CWC,” former Union minister Jitin Prasada told The Indian Express.
Asked whether the seniors would agree to a young leader as president, Deora said, “I am not aware, but I am echoing what a very senior leader like Captain Amarinder Singh has said. He had suggested a younger leader should become the president. I am only echoing that view. After the Gandhi family, I think these two individuals (Pilot and Scindia) have the potential to motivate the cadre and voter.”
“Amarinder Singh is one of the seniormost leaders. If he can support a young leader, then I am sure that other senior leaders will also have the same opinion as him. If he has no aversion to working with a younger leader, we should all put aside our petty insecurities and support the best option available. I am sure that all leaders and workers will have no aversion to work alongside leaders like Pilot or Scindia,” he said.
When pointed out that Karan Singh had also favoured Priyanka, Deora said, “I would be most happy if she became president but as far as I understand, that is not an option. If the Gandhi family has decided that they don’t want to be involved in this process and don’t wish to become president, that is a decision that we as a party should accept and move on.”