Following the debacle performance of the Indian National Congress (INC) at the 17th Lok Sabha Election, 2019, Rahul Gandhi, the then President of the party decided to resign from his post. For the second time in two consecutive general elections, the Congress won below 100 seats – 44 in 2014 and 52 in 2019. This is in sharp contrast to the 206 seats that it won during the reign of the UPA II in the 15th Lok Sabha Election, 2009. And to think that this is their worst performance ever in 17 Lok Sabha elections since the first in 1951 when it won 364 seats out of the then 489 seats, indeed pressure mounts on the party, especially its president Rahul Gandhi. But of course, RaGa, as he is known in the Media world, was elected as the President of the Indian National Congress (INC) in December of 2017, succeeding his mother Sonia Gandhi, to take the party forward. Known for his boyish charms and interaction with the youths of India, it was widely believed that he would connect with the educated youths of India and take the country forward along with them. And after a year at the helm, there were signs that he was the rightful leader when the Congress gave a major blow to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by winning the 2018 State Assembly Elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan to form the government. Following these state assembly election results, it was widely expected that that Congress would give a tough fight to the BJP-NDA at the Centre in the 17th Lok Sabha Elections, 2019. But it was not to be so with the BJP alone winning 303 seats, 21 more than it won in 2014 while the Congress won just 52 seats. So, what went wrong with the Congress?
It won’t be an easy comeback for the Congress from here now onwards. The road ahead is tough and hence, the party needs to take a tough stand; desperate times, desperate measures. In one word, the Congress party needs a whole lot of changes. First, it must do away with the dynastic rule and move beyond the Gandhi family. The Congress must concentrate more on “The Party” rather than the ‘Gandhi family’. For too long the party has over-emphasized on the Gandhis to lead them, thus giving them due importance. There is no doubt that the Gandhis have played a major role in Independence Indian and its governance. However, that does deter the fact that the Congress would not do with a stronger, more charismatic leader. In Rahul Gandhi, the party sees a future PM of India and a leader, someone who could take the Congress to greater heights. However, what the Congress needs is a leader of the present, someone who able to pull the crowd, the public closer to the party. Perhaps, that is where RaGa has failed. Or perhaps, the public is tired of the dynastic rule of the party. And if Rahul Gandhi decides to resign as the President of the party, it is time that the Congress looks for a new leader, a leader the public can relate to considering the situation of India. If PM Modi is winning India today, it is because the public sees in him someone in whom they can rely and trust, someone in whom they feel secure for their country, and someone in whom they see a leader of the public. And that is exactly something that the Congress needs, a leader in whom the Indians can see a Leader, not just a Gandhi because of the same.
The Congress has a tough road ahead, to rebuild itself before the 18th Lok Sabha Election, 2024. And Jyotiraditya Scindia leaving the Congress and joining the BJP is just another blow to the party. Until and unless the NDA and BJP make a blunder thus losing trust of the public, it won’t be easy for the Congress in the next general election too. They need change of guard, a leader in whom the public can say, “Yes, this is the leader India needs, a leader that can take the country to new heights.” In other words, the Congress must end the dynastic rule and see beyond the Gandhis to lead the party and take it to new heights.