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15 Dec 2017

Sonia retires as Congress President: A new era in Congress

A day before Rahul Gandhi officially takes charge as the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi has announced her retirement as its President.

This also means her leaving the position of the leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP), which is expected to go to Rahul.

Rahul was formally announced Congress president on December 11 after the party's internal elections. Some leaders had claimed rigged polls.

In context

Is Sonia Gandhi retiring from politics?

Congress can't get enough of her!


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, she was made the party president.

She began her presidentship with a hat-trick win in MP, Rajasthan and Delhi. She revived and unified the party.

Congress won the 2004 and 2009 polls under her leadership. However, aware of her limitations, she entrusted prime-ministership to Manmohan Singh.

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What does her retirement mean for the party?

Earlier, the Congress leader in Lok Sabha (PM if it was ruling, opposition leader if not) was by default the CPP leader.

During Sonia's regime, the post was created separately while Manmohan Singh reigned as PM.

Her retirement raises questions on Congress's hold on Raebareli, which has been a party bastion for five decades.

This might signal daughter Priyanka's entry into electoral politics.

Will Rahul be able to function without mother Sonia's help?


Will Rahul be able to function without mother Sonia's help?

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.

Was Rahul's election as party president ethical and unbiased?

There was high drama earlier as just before Rahul's nomination, Shehzad Poonawalla, brother of Tehseen Poonawalla (Robert Vadra's cousin's husband), alleged the elections are rigged. "Congress has no place for Shehzad, but for Shehzada," he said.


Can Rahul turn around the fledgling Congress?

Rahul has recently sought to re-invent himself. In terms of economic policies, he is likely to adopt a pro-poor populist approach while focusing on reforms.

For youths, he has promised jobs.

But his impulsiveness and inaccessibility might cost him.

Presently, Congress has only 44 LS seats and five state governments.

If it performs abysmally in Gujarat/Himachal, it might want to re-think its prime-ministerial candidate.

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