Barely 20 months after she paved the way for Rahul Gandhi to lead the party, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is back at the helm of the Congress.
Failing to elect Rahul Gandhi’s successor – a non-Gandhi president; the grand old party in a surprise move on Saturday elected his mother Sonia Gandhi as the “interim president till party elects a permanent president”.
Congress’ compulsion or lack of credible options can be understood by the fact that Sonia who opted out of the selection process was asked to lead the party 10 hours later, which shows that the party is facing one of the worst crises in its political history.
“In this situation, she is the only only leader who can put file and rank intact and take on Modi. She is the savior, ” said a Congress worker outside the AICC.
Congress general secretary Venugopal noted, “The CWC considered the views of PCC Presidents, CLP Leaders, AICC Secretaries and Members of Parliament. The CWC unanimously resolved that Shri Rahul Gandhi should continue as Congress President, as desired by all who were consulted today, and requested him to accept this decision. However, Shri Rahul Gandhi declined to withdraw his resignation.”
“Consequently, the CWC unanimously resolved to request Smt. Sonia Gandhi to take over as Interim President pending the election of a regular President by the AICC.”
To many, Sonia Gandhi’s return as the Congress interim president may appear as the last-ditch effort to find an acceptable formula but history speaks in her favour.
20 years ago, in an almost same situation when Sonia took over the party - Congress was in shambles, leaders were deserting the party. Those who remained in the party like Sharad Pawar and Arjun Singh were involved in fighting for supremacy.
At that time, the party was called by many the “Kesri Congress” and was dubbed as a dying political outfit with little will to survive and strive.
However, proving her detractors wrong, Sonia Gandhi did not only end factionalism in the party, but also oxygenated the organisation and gave a new lease of life to the party which rose as a phoenix to pose a big challenger to the BJP that was led by the famous troika of Atal-Advani-Joshi in late 90s.
As the leader of the Opposition, she successfully made her party sail through rough waters in the last years of 1990s, won state elections in the beginning of the millennium and laid down the foundation for United Progressive Alliance (UPA) which ruled India from 2004 to 2014.
It is not known to many that it was Sonia Gandhi who, first mooted the idea of UPA at around 2004 to take on the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) which, riding high on the wave of nationalism after Kargil war, launched the India Shining campaign. Riding on these two strong waved, NDA was hoping to win the election in 2004.
In 2004, under Sonia’s leadership, Congress ousted the BJP from power by forming UPA after 2004 elections. Not only did Sonia, who faced criticism for her Italian origin, show high degree of political acumen but also successfully kept the saffron party out of power for 10 years.
Her refusal to become the Prime Minister of India is a glorious chapter of the sacrifices made by the Congress party in favor of larger interest.
As UPA chairperson, she is credited for several outstanding reforms and bringing poor at the centerstage of the polity. Her pursuance for the betterment of the poor led to the passage of pro-people legislations like RTI, Right to Food, MGNREGA etc.
Her setting up the National Advisory Council (NAC) comprising members of civil society, intellectuals, activists to suggest and guide the government on important issues, had far reaching impact on governance.
It is natural that Congress, under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi is expecting survival plus revival as she is best known as the politician who can build a house from debris and who can run a house even without living in it.