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Rahul Gandhi's open letter: Warning of hard times ahead while speculation swirls on who will succeed him

At times I stood alone and am extremely proud of it, writes Rahul

By The Telegraph in New Delhi
  • Published 4.07.19, 1:38 AM
  • Updated 4.07.19, 1:38 AM
  • 3 mins read
  •  
Rahul Gandhi. PTI file photo

After Rahul Gandhi released an open letter on Twitter and reiterated his wish to resign as Congress president, the party did not issue any official statement on Wednesday night and speculation swirled on who would replace him. 

The Congress constitution says that in the emergency of "the death or resignation of the Congress President, the Seniormost 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".

The seniormost general secretary in the Congress right now happens to be Motilal Vora, who is 90 and is an old loyalist of the Gandhis. Vora, whose name did the rounds as a possible choice for now, was quoted by news agency ANI as saying that the party would again request Rahul to remain the president. 

When asked if an interim president would be appointed, AICC secretary in charge of communications, Pranav Jha, said: “There is no provision for an interim party president in the Congress constitution. The document defines that in the event of an emergency after the Congress president steps down, the party’s seniormost general secretary will discharge the duties of his office until a new president is constitutionally elected." 

Sushmita Dev, the president of the All India Mahila Congress, said: "I am sure he (Rahul) will play an important role and the party will reform if it draws lessons from what he has advised in the letter to revive the party. He will act as a mass leader.”

When asked what after Rahul, she said, “The first time he showed his willingness to resign from the post in front of the CWC, it was clear that he was taking the step to work for the party and the country by becoming a leader of the masses on behalf of the Congress and not an office-bearer. It rests with him what steps he will take to do so. I don’t see this event leading to the absence of Rahul Gandhi from the party. He will be there to guide and support us.”

On May 25, Rahul had placed his resignation before the Congress Working Committee which did not accept it.

In the letter, Rahul wrote: "I am available to the party whenever they require m services, input or advice." Some have read in this line a hint that the Congress was keeping the door ajar for his return.

Since May 25, many Congress leaders have implored with him to stay on as the chief and many others have resigned.

Rahul's statement today betrayed what some party sources had said earlier - that he did not get the full support of the leadership when he took on Narendra Modi directly. "I personally fought the Prime Minister, the RSS and the institutions they have captured with all my being," Rahul wrote. "At times I stood completely alone and am extremely proud of it."

While he did not mention specific campaign issues, Rahul did mention the "breath of corruption" allegations against the Prime Minister. In a clear hint on the Rafale deal campaign, from which had sprung his "chowkidar chor hai" slogan, Rahul wrote: "The Prime Minister's win does not negate the breadth of corruption allegations against him; no amount of money and propaganda can ever hide the light of the truth."

Rahul warned that farmers, unemployed youth, Dalits, women and minorities would become the greatest sufferers under this government and that "there is a real danger that from now on, election will go from being a determinant of India's future to a mere ritual".

He spoke of the radical change that the Congress needs to undergo to be the Opposition voice.

“We didn't fight a political party in the 2019 election. Rather, we fought the entire machinery of the Indian state, every institution of which was marshaled against the Opposition. It is crystal clear that our once cherished institutional neutrality no longer exists in India. The stated objectives of the RSS, the capture of our country's institutional structure, is now complete. Our democracy has been fundamentally weakened," the letter said.

While some observers saw in the letter a lack of contrition or an acceptance of the party's mistakes, some senior Congress leaders said the path suggested by Rahul would help the party.

“If every Congress worker begins to understand as maturely as Rahul Gandhi the threats of the attack on the democratic institutions across India that are coming from the RSS and the BJP, the Congress will get rid of its weaknesses. It will become a viable Opposition challenging the BJP head on in every matter of importance,” senior Congress leader from Odisha, Bhakt Charan Das, said.

Subodh Kant Sahay, a Congress veteran in Jharkhand, said, “The letter has expressed pain at the state of affairs where democratic structures are being broken under the ruling party's governance and has pointed the challenges confronting the Congress after the Lok Sabha election debacle.... Now the party should head towards change to save the country.”