Given the kind of dilly-dallying over organizational polls the Congress party is used to, the announcement on Friday about fresh plans to elect the party president by June this year might be taken by one and all with a pinch of salt. Yet, chances are also that this would happen as the party is currently in a rudderless state and sand is slipping from down its feet in state after state.

Sonia Gandhi, who kept the party flag flying high for many years as its president, is now functioning in that slot in an interim capacity. This meant that no full-fledged, feverish activity to revive the fortunes of the Grand Old Party is likely and the drag will continue for more time. Rahul Gandhi is there and still not there. His blow-hot, blow-cold approach to politics after taking over as party chief and later cutting and running in the aftermath of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls have hurt the party badly. While there could be several leaders from the younger generation who can be brought up and energize the organizational set-up, the party leadership is caught by a death-wish. This situation suits both the ruling BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi immensely. The lack of a strong opposition is a situation tailor-made for the weakening of the concept of democracy. Most regional parties are run by leaders and dynasties and they are hugely corrupt.

The Congress party carries with it the legacy of the freedom struggle led by the likes of Gandhi and Nehru. It has a pan-India appeal and organizational network down to grassroots level in every village across the length and breadth of the country. The days of an ailing Sonia Gandhi might be over and the party requires new leadership that can carry the party legacy forward in able ways. What the party now has is a deficit of leadership. Organisational elections are the best way forward but if this is done in a fair manner, there perhaps could emerge a challenge to the “first family”; and herein lies the rub.

At the same time, the time of reckoning has arrived for the Congress party. State after state, it is losing power. The more the BJP gains clout, the more the attempts to destroy the tricolour party as part of the saffron bandwagon’s declared objective of creating a Congress-mukt Bharat. The Congress carried all sections of the people in its fold. It has not been sectarian in its approach. What it lacks at present is a strong leadership.

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