First Massive Defeat Then Rahul Gandhi's Resignation; Congress's Future Hangs In Balance
Last week, on July 3, 2019, Rahul Gandhi officially resigned from the post of the Congress National President. Gandhi taking responsibility for the defeat during the 2019 elections, decided to step down from the post.
Gandhi’s decision came days after the Congress, for the second consecutive time, during the 2019 Lok Sabha election, failed to win enough seats to be the official opposition party.
The party could win only 44 seats in 2014 and 52 seats in 2019, out of 543. A huge embarrassment, considering it has ruled the country for more than a half century.
However, for the first time, any member of the Gandhi family has owned up a defeat. In this case, not just Gandhi has held himself responsible but also urged party leaders across the country to hold themselves accountable for the poor performance of the party.
Following Gandhi’s resignation, several of his close confidants has stepped down from respective positions in the Congress party.
The most recent leader to have resigned is Jyotiraditya Scindia, who took responsibility for the poor performance of the party and resigned from the post of the AICC general secretary on Sunday(July 7) evening. Earlier on Sunday, Mumbai Chief Congress Milind Deora stating that he was looking forward to playing a role at the national level, resigned from the post.
Other prominent leaders who have resigned after taking responsibility for the miserable defeat include; Kamal Nath from the post of Madhya Pradesh Congress chief; Raj Babbar from the post of UP Congress chief; Harish Rawat from the post of AICC general secretary; Vivek Tankha from the post of AICC chairman Law, RTI and HR; Dipak Babaria from the post of Congress in-charge for Madhya Pradesh; Girish Chodankar from the post of Goa Congress chief; Poonam Prabhakar from the post of Congress in-charge for Telangana; Virendra Rathore from the post of Congress in-charge for Bihar.
Post Rahul Gandhi resignation without appointing a successor, it is unsure as to who will be the next Congress President. The fate of the Indian National Congress hangs in balance. Let’s take a look at the top contenders who are in the fray for the job of Congress chief.
Ashok Gehlot, born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, rose through the ranks of state president of National Student’s Union of India (NSUI) in 1974 to become the 12th Chief Minister of Rajasthan in 1998. Currently, Ghelot is serving his third term as Chief Minister of Rajasthan.
Gehlot is seen as close to Sonia Gandhi’s confidant Ahmed Patel along with being in good terms with regional leaders such as Captain Amarinder Singh, Kamal Nath and Ashok Chavan.
Gehlot has acceptability across the party cadre. He is among the very few, who can be trusted for holding the topmost position in the Congress party.
Mallikarjun Kharge, born in Bidar district of Karnataka, rose from being appointed as Gulbarga City Congress Committee President in 1969 to the ranks of Karnataka State Congress Committee President in 2005.
Kharge, after winning 2009 general elections from Gulbarga Parliamentary Constituency, held the post of Union Cabinet Minister in the UPA-2 government.
Until the 2019 general election, Kharge had won 10 consecutive elections. However, Kharge’s winning stride was stalled by BJP leader Umesh. G. Jadhav, who, under the Modi wave, defeated Mallikarjun Kharge by a margin of 95,452 votes.
Currently, Mallikarjun Kharge is one of the most prominent faces in the Congress party.
Born into Scindia Family that once ruled Gwalior princely state, Jyotiraditya Scindia was elected to 13th Lok Sabha in 2002. Scindia contested and won by-election from Guna constituency after the seat fell vacant following his father’s death. Later Scindia won Lok Sabha election in 2004 and 2009. He has held multiple positions as Union Minister of State.
Scindia, a close aide of Rahul Gandhi, is currently among the top contenders who can be appointed as the next Congress president.
Further, tilting the tide in the favour Scindia, Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee has appealed to Rahul Gandhi to appoint Jyotiraditya Scindia as next party leader.
Prithviraj Chavan started his political career in 1991 when his name was proposed as the Congress nominee by Hindurao Sakharam Jagtap, President of Karad Taluka Youth Congress Committee. Chavan’s name was proposed as the party nominee, in place of his late mother.
Since 1957, Karad Lok Sabha had been a stronghold of Karad family. First by Chavan’s father, Dajisaheb Chavan, from 1957 until he died in 1973. After Dajisaheb’s death, the seat was contested and won by his wife Premalakaki Chavan, from 1973 until her death in 1991.
Prithviraj Chavan continued the family legacy by winning election from the Karad constituency for three consecutive times; in 1991, 1996 and 1998. He lost to Shriniwas Patil of Nationalist Congress Party during 1999 general elections.
Sushilkumar Shinde, born in Solapur, Maharashtra, became a member of the Congress party in 1971. He contested and won the Maharashtra state assembly elections for five consecutive terms – from 1974 to 1992. So far Shinde has seven Legislative Assembly election and three Lok Sabha election win in his kitty. He won Lok Sabha election in 1992, 1999 and 2009.
Shinde, who served as the chief minister of Maharashtra from 2003 to 2004, has held the key post of Home Minister and Power Minister of India in the UPA-1 and UPA-2 government.
Mukul Wasnik was appointed as Treasurer, National Students' Union of India (N.S.U.I.) in 1984, rose through the ranks to become All India Congress Committee General Secretary in 2009.
In 1984, Wasnik was elected to the Lok Sabha from Buldhana constituency. Since then he won Lok Sabha election three more times; in 1991, 1998 and 2009.
During the UPA-2 government in 2009, he served as the Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment.