The election of a new Congress president began yesterday, and if all goes according to plan, the party will choose Sonia Gandhi’s successor by September 20. Many things have changed politically in the nation since she became president of Congress in 1998. Her leadership has previously kept up with the changes, but she has been unable to properly refashion it for a BJP-dominated political scene. The fact that Congress hasn’t been able to win any state elections since Sonia became president for a second time in 2019 is indicative of this.
After Rahul’s disastrous 2019 election season, in which the BJP came dangerously near to matching the Congress party’s 1989 vote total, she returned to her former post. Sad to say, Rahul’s repeated expressions of apathy have dampened the party’s calls for his comeback after three long years. Meanwhile, members of “Team Rahul” maintain prominent positions in state party organisations and the AICC headquarters. Keeping things unclear for another five years as Congress loses members and its role as the fulcrum of India’s opposition dwindles would only hurt its chances in 2024.
In contrast to this wasting away of organisational resources, the BJP is constantly reorganising its operations in response to shifting political fortunes; for example, the party recently purged heavyweights Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Nitin Gadkari from its parliamentary board.
The Congress’s G23 faction has been the most vocal proponent of this upheaval, but they have yet to demonstrate that this is more than simply a durbari struggle for control over the Gandhis. Anand Sharma, who resigned as party head in Himachal Pradesh, and Ghulam Nabi Azad, who resigned as party head in Jammu and Kashmir, might take their protest further by running for the president of the Congress.
The United States and the United Kingdom are two shining examples of how internal democracy may help make political parties more competitive. Moreover, Sonia acknowledged at the Udaipur chintan shivir that unordinary events need unprecedented action. The party may need a jolt of adrenaline in the form of a true election for her position.