A lengthy string of electoral losses will not keep Rahul Gandhi from being promoted to become Congress chief in October, the party has decided today at a meeting of its top leaders held at the home of Mr Gandhi’s mother, Sonia, who is the Congress president.
Mr Gandhi, 46, has long been assured by the Congress that the top job is his for the taking. The party is obliged to hold internal elections by December – it has not held them since 2005.
“Organisational elections have been cleared,” said leader Ghulam Nabi Azad. He said though Mr Gandhi’s elevation was not specifically touched on, it will be a natural consequence of the decision to hold internal elections. The party chief is chosen by about 2,000 “delegates” or senior members of the party who also elect members of the Congress Working Committee, its top decision-making body.
Mr Gandhi shared that he will also head a think tank of senior leaders who will decide the Congress’ stand on complex political and economic issues.
Sonia Gandhi, 70, has served as the Congress chief since 1998. In recent years, she has been keeping unwell and has travelled more than once to the US for treatment, with her party refusing to disclose her ailment.
“We must be ready to protect the essence and idea of India which this government is seeking to extinguish,” she said at the meeting, attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which is celebrating its third anniversary.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a noted economist, said PM Modi has failed to create jobs. The economy, Dr Singh said, “is running on just one engine of public spending” and that investment by the private sector has collapsed.
Earlier this year, Dr Singh drew a sharp comeback from PM Modi after he described the government’s abrupt decision to ban high-denomination notes as “organised loot and legalised plunder” and predicted that the economy would shrink by upto 2 percent as a result of demonetisation. In parliament, PM Modi responded that his predecessor, during whose terms huge swindles were orchestrated in sectors ranging from coal to telecom, was unique “in the art of taking a bath while wearing a raincoat.”