BENGALURU: Two years before the Congress suffered a humiliating defeat in the 2014 general elections and Narendra Modi landed firmly in the national capital as the Prime Minister, there was a possibility of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi taking over the top job from Manmohan Singh who was then the premier.
It has now come to light that many senior leaders and the Congress’s allies in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had discussed with the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to bring in Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister in place of Manmohan Singh.
This was not because Manmohan was found incompetent but the seniors felt that they need to go to the polls with a new face and rejuvenate the party which was by then on a downhill journey.
Giving credence to the possibility of this change that could have altered the dynamics of India’s politics, many coalition partners, including DMK chief M Karunanidhi, too had taken it up with Sonia Gandhi.
They tried to persuade her on the need for this tectonic shift, Congress Working Committee member K H Muniyappa who was present at these discussions, told The New Indian Express.
But Sonia Gandhi had declined the suggestion, as she felt that it was not ‘the right time’ to make such a radical shift in the leadership. And two years down the line, the 2014 LS polls gave Congress an electoral punch, from which it is only now showing signs of a slight recovery in some states’ polls.
From being the single dominant party in the country, it was reduced to double digits in the Lok Sabha then. And red flags were raised within the Congress circles to save it from ruin. The general elections threw up a leader in Modi and launched a new political discourse in the country.
Again, in 2019, the party met a similar fate. Rahul Gandhi immediately stepped down as party president.
“As President of the Congress party, I am responsible for the loss of the 2019 election. Accountability is critical for the future growth of our party” he had said in a tweet.
Muniyappa, who was first to speak for the Gandhi family at the recent CWC meeting, said the party “failed” to use that opportunity and it almost went to elections “empty-handed.”
Now, when the stage is again said to be set for Rahul’s return to the top job in the party, the only option before Congress seems to be to make him the president.
‘Congress can accept none but Gandhi family’
“It is not possible for Congress to appoint anyone outside the Gandhi family as the party president. We have to make new strategies with him, and the seniors and the experts must guide him in taking people from all sections of the society into confidence,” says Muniyappa.
Ironically, historian Ramachandra Guha had recently remarked that a “fifth-generation dynast” Rahul Gandhi had no chance in Indian politics against a “hard-working and self-made” Narendra Modi.
Rahul Gandhi, who in 2019 general elections lost from his family bastion of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, had won from the Wayanad seat in Kerala.