From Dalit leaders like Sushil Kumar Shinde, Mallikarjun Kharge and Mukul Wasnik to heartland OBC and upper caste faces like Ashok Gehlot and Anand Sharma and young guns like Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia, the Congress is abuzz with names of possible successors to Rahul Gandhi who Wednesday stepped down as party president. But all indications are that the party is groping in the dark to find a viable alternative arrangement.
The Congress said Rahul will continue to be president until his resignation is accepted by the CWC and a new chief is appointed after due process, nixing speculation that Motilal Vora, the most senior AICC general secretary, would be taking over as interim president.
Party leaders said the first step would be to convene a meeting of the CWC. Rahul is travelling to Bhiwandi Thursday to appear in a court in a defamation case.
The Congress constitution does, however, state: “In the event of any emergency by reason of any cause such as the death or resignation of the President elected as above, the senior most General Secretary will discharge the routine functions of the President until the Working Committee appoints a provisional President pending the election of a regular President by the AICC.”
Rahul’s open letter itself has given some indication of his mind and the road ahead. In his four-page letter, he underlines that the party needs to take “hard decisions” and that “numerous people will have to be made accountable for the failure of 2019.” He also pointed out that “the powerful cling to power, no one sacrifices power”.
Some leaders said the party can put in place a presidium of elders including the Gandhis and the Chief Ministers — a CPM Politburo-like mechanism — to run the party collectively. They said some young guns can be appointed as working presidents to do the legwork. The second option is to appoint a veteran close to the Gandhi family as interim president along with some working presidents. The third option is to set in motion the election process, which a majority of leaders said is not advisable at such a juncture since it may divide the party.