Following Rahul's elevation, what will Sonia Gandhi's role be?
During her 19-year tenure as Congress president, Sonia Gandhi has certainly revived the party. However, with her failing health, she has slowly relinquished her hold. The mantle to improve the party's fortunes from its current tally of 44 seats in LS has now passed on to its president-elect Rahul Gandhi. With Rahul's elevation, the obvious question is "What will Sonia Gandhi's role be?"
How did Sonia fare as Congress president?
Sonia was a political novice when she joined Congress after the 1998 LS polls debacle. Within 62 days of joining, she was elevated to the president's post. She began her presidentship with a hat-trick win in MP, Rajasthan and Delhi. She revived and unified the party. The party won 2004 and 2009 parliamentary polls under her leadership. However, aware of her limitations, she entrusted prime-ministership to Manmohan Singh.
How does the party perceive Sonia's role?
Senior party leader, Veerappa Moily said Sonia's stature will remain "undiminished." She will probably be a party patron with an advisory role. It is, however, unclear whether she will resign as head of the parliamentary party and Congress Working Committee, party's highest decision-making body.
But, what will Congress need Sonia for?
For upcoming 2019 LS elections, Rahul might need his mother's charm to band the opposition against BJP. Sharad Pawar, Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee willingly work with Sonia but clam up when it comes to Rahul. Further, Sonia's team of experts Ahmed Patel, Kamal Nath, AK Antony, etc. are more politically savvy than Rahul's team, who are neither mass leaders nor adept at backroom negotiations.
How will Rahul be affected?
Sonia accepted responsibility for Congress's 2014 rout. Then, in 2015, during Rahul's two-month sabbatical, Sonia led the opposition against Modi's decision to amend the Land Acquisition Bill. After the changeover, Rahul won't have this protective shield to rely on, if he hits a tight spot.
Meanwhile, will Rahul be able to turnaround Congress?
So, will Rahul be able to reverse Congress's fortunes? He will require Nehru's statesmanship, Indira's fighting spirit, Rajiv's voter connect and Sonia's perseverance. Moreover, Rahul will need a game-plan to tackle Congress's organization, which is in worse shape than when Sonia took charge. However, Rahul's impulsiveness and inaccessibility might cost him. He still has a long way to go!