Sonia Gandhi completes one year as the Congress interim President in her second stint as the party chief with the Grand Old Party in turmoil following the high profile rebellions of Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot.
Sonia Gandhi in her second stint is battling ill-health as well as the feuds within the party. She was unable to stop Jyotiraditya Scindia from breaking the party and joining the BJP which led to the fall of the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh. She could not intervene between the two factions and General Secretary in-charge Deepak Babaria could not bring about a truce between the two high profile leaders Scindia and former MP Chief Minister Kamal Nath.
The same thing happened in Rajasthan where former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot revolted against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, leading to a crisis in the government. There also the Congress leadership remained weak and could not broker peace between the two factions.
The third state where the Congress is facing problems is Punjab. The party is trying to downplay the rift and said that the media is trying to read too much into it.
The second stint of Sonia Gandhi came about following he resignation of her son Rahul Gandhi as the party President and after the Congress Working Committee could not find a replacement except Sonia Gandhi. Since August 2019, the party has been fighting the BJP while the internal rifts have widened. There is also a sense of resentment over the interference of Team Rahul Gandhi in the organisation’s functioning.
At the July 30 meeting of its Rajya Sabha MPs where the issue of leadership was discussed, many leaders demanded that Rahul Gandhi should be brought back as Party President. A controversy erupted when some leaders demanded that the party should introspect on the reasons for its electoral defeats, to which leaders close to Rahul Gandhi raised questions over the UPA rule, which led to a war on the social media. Senior leaders had to intervene and say that they should desist from making comments on social media.
The Congress on Sunday maintained that Sonia Gandhi will continue as party President till a new chief is elected or appointed. Congress Senior spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that “no party will allow any vacuum and there is no vacuum at all, Sonia Gandhi is President and will continue to be till such time proper procedure is implemented.”
It is true that Sonia Gandhi’s term is ending but the party is not going to be “headless”, said Singhvi. The Congress leader said that there is a laid down procedure for a CWC meeting and the party will decide on the matter.
Sonia Gandhi in her first stint was instrumental in cobbling together the UPA and bringing the Congress back to power in 2004 and presiding over a second win in 2009. The Congress was totally submerged by the Narendra Modi wave in 2014 and was reduced to its lowest figure with less than 50 seats in the Lok Sabha. In the 2019 elections the Congress under Rahul Gandhi suffered another major defeat. Although the party’s numbers increased marginally in the Lower House, it led to Rahul’s resignation as party President.