WhatsApp Image 2023-02-26 at 9.49.20 AM (1)
WhatsApp Image 2023-02-26 at 9.49.20 AM

Congress election rivalry not new

Kochi: The 137-year-old Congress is all set to elect a new chief after a gap of about a quarter century during which Sonia Gandhi remained at the helm setting a new record of being the longest serving party president for about a quarter century. The last election was held on January 3, 1997 when Sitaram Kesri crushed Sharad Pawar and late Rajesh Pilot to occupy the post.

Alas, Kesri was removed unceremoniously through a special resolution of the Congress Working Committee to install newly enrolled party member Sonia Gandhi even before Kesri had completed one year as party chief. Sonia proved her mettle by bringing back the Congress-led UPA government to power defeating the A B Vajpayee-led NDA government in 2004 general elections. 

The Congress grew in strength and remained in power for a decade due to the outstanding stewardship of Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister and strong leadership of Sonia. The advent of Narendra Modi as Prime Ministerial candidate and the magical win of BJP in 2014 shattered the very foundation of the Congress and the UPA. BJP’s back to back victory in 2019 added insult to injury for the Congress.

Rahul Gandhi’s failure as a party president forced Sonia Gandhi to take over the reins from him. But things appeared more complicated as tall leaders in the party appealed to her to bring reforms and carry out an overhaul of the party to make it strong enough to take on the rightist BJP-led NDA. This led to division in the party on the lines of ideology leading to the formation of G-23 bloc within the party causing headache and embarrassment to Gandhi family loyalists.

Infight in Congress is not new and the victory of unofficial nominee Subhash Chandra Bose against Mahatma Gandhi backed Pattabhi Sitaramayya in the 1939 election is a glaring example of it. This was the turning point in the ties between Bose and Mahatma Gandhi culminating in the ouster of Bose from the party, a Punjab based daily said quoting historical records.

A similar incident happened when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru backed J B Kripalani faced defeat at the hands of Home Minister Sardar Vallabbhai Patel supported Purushotham Das Tandon in 1950 and the end result was the exit of Tandon, the daily quoating former President of the country Pranab Mukherjee said.

And now a diplomat, writer, turned politician, Shashi Tharoor, has jumped into the fray even as a section of his partymen in Kerala has openly opposed him. Even his buddies in the G-23 bloc have extended support to his rival and  the official candidate Mallikarjun Kharge. This has not affected Tharoor’s confidence and he feels his victory was essential for making the party more vibrant and competitive. The rejection of K N Tripathi’s nomination has left Tharoor and Kharge in the fight. The election will be held on October 17 while counting of votes declaration of result will take place on October 19.

Photo Credit: Twitter

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