Given the turn of events over the past few weeks and the reluctance of the Congress to zero in on a choice for the post of party president following the resignation of Rahul Gandhi, it comes as no surprise that Sonia Gandhi was chosen as the interim chief of the party.Also, it shows that the grand old party did not have any other option but to appoint Sonia as its leader.
The decision to make Sonia Gandhi as interim chief plays directly into the hands of the BJP and gives it more ammunition to further target the Congress’ dynastic choices. Also, by bringing Sonia at the helm of party affairs for the second time, the Congress lost a golden opportunity to show to the world, especially the BJP, that it is a truly democratic party. The grand old party should have appointed a non-Gandhi president with a Gandhi backing to make a statement loud and clear.
Sonia’s return to the top of party affairs also is a signal that the Congress is in no hurry to get the electoral narrative of the country changed. It is right now focussing on keeping the party united amid a string of desertions over the party’s stand on Article 370. The appointment is also a sign that the party is not eagerly looking to make a demarcated ideology against the majoritarian sentiment that has gone with the BJP post-Article 370.
In terms of the implications which the appointment will have on the Assembly elections in the states of Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana, the decision has given the BJP a huge headstart. Although Sonia’s elevation is not the only reason for the advantage shifting to the BJP, it will play a crucial role in the outcome of these elections. By bringing back Sonia, the Congress has only managed to widen the gap between itself and the BJP, which is riding on the success of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
I see no revival of the Congress’ fortunes in the near future unless the BJP stumbles on its own. The BJP has managed to turn the tide in its favour through populist measures and the Congress without strong leadership and incessant infighting will find it very tough to create a counter-narrative to the one created by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. The party needs strong leadership to highlight the issues of economic crisis and joblessness to create a hurdle in the BJP’s march to electoral glory.
political commentator & author