Rahul Gandhi posted an open letter on Twitter on Wednesday, announcing that he is stepping down from his position as the President of the Congress.
This move did not come as a surprise because he had tendered his resignation after the drubbing that Congress received at the hands of the BJP at the 2019 General Elections.
However, it was turned down by his mother, Sonia Gandhi. But, as his letter proves, this did not shake his resolve to vacate his chair.
Ever since then, denizens of social networking sites have been splitting hairs over his resignation and what his letter implies. So, what are the chief takeaways of his four-page resignation letter?
When Rahul Gandhi entered the political scene, it was a coronation of sorts. The scion of a political dynasty had taken his rightful place. Many hopes were pinned on him.
He was supposed to breathe new life into Indian politics and usher it into the new era.
But, as his letter indicates, he felt betrayed by everyone. Possibly, he is grieving over his inability to implement the changes he wanted.
He has been facing opposition in his own party; his voice has not been heard. The Congress Working Committee consists of members who predate even Sonia Gandhi herself. These ancient politicians are resistant to change.
Their power and clout are entrenched. We can assume that Rahul Gandhi had to butt heads with them often enough but never emerged victorious.
The old guard stands united. They are not willing to concede an inch of ground.
Every time he wanted to rope in new blood, the old guard resisted him tooth and nail. Even though he was the president, his wishes had been over-ridden time and time again.
Therefore, what we can conclude is the Congress is unwilling to restructure itself despite suffering dramatic setbacks in elections over the last few years.
Something else we can understand from the letter and the resignation was that he was helpless in fighting the old guard. He had a battle on his hands that he could not win.
He simply did not have the courage to sack the veterans. They always had counter plans to resist him. He was the lone crusader fighting for reformation.
Not one to back down from his stance, Gandhi asserts, “At times, I stood completely alone and am extremely proud of it.”
His struggle with the old guard is clearly transparent in the lines- “…It is a habit in India that the powerful cling to power; no one sacrifices power.
But, we will not defeat our opponents without sacrificing the desire for power and fighting a deeper ideological battle. I was born a Congressman… (The party) is my life’s blood and forever that way it shall remain.”
We can look at the resignation as just another sacrifice in a slew of sacrifices made by the Gandhi dynasty.
Sonia Gandhi gave up the opportunity to become the Prime Minister despite winning the Legislative Assembly elections in 2004, the other sacrifices being the assassinations of Indira Gandhi and
Rajeev Gandhi. It was almost as if he had resigned himself to this fatalism- a sacrifice is expected from any prominent Gandhi.
His contention with the Congress supremos was taken up a notch when he was forced by them to hand out party tickets to their family members and children.
This strain of ‘keeping it in the family’ did not go down well with Rahul Gandhi. The reason being, many of these people were unworthy of the duties and responsibilities being bestowed upon them.
His bitterness becomes apparent when he says, “…Numerous people will have to be made accountable for the failure of 2019.”
Something else that comes through from his letter is his lack of faith in the most recent mandate.
The disheartened ex-prez of Congress does not point fingers at the EVMs- something that his party compatriots as well as other political parties that oppose the BJP did. But, his letter implies that the elections were anything but fair.
He indirectly states that the ‘arbiters’ such as certain media bodies, the Election Commission, may not have been quite as neutral as they project themselves to be.
In his own words, the Congress wasn’t just up against the behemoth that is BJP but the “entire machinery of the Indian State”.
His suspicions are further corroborated when he writes, “…There is a real danger that from now on, elections will go from being a determinant of India’s future to a mere ritual.”
But, the question on everyone’s mind is, is the end of the road for Rahul Gandhi. But, a careful reading between the lines of his letter gives us the answer.
He says, “I am available to the party whenever they require my services, input or advice”. What we can take away from this statement is, Rahul Gandhi hasn’t entirely pulled the plug on his political career.
He is still a member of the Congress and he will exert all his will and power to restore Congress to its original position. And, if the internal power dynamics are balanced out, he may very well resume his old role of the President of Congress. That is the hope that will keep the Rahul Gandhi loyalists going.
Rahul Gandhi’s resignation has been met with mixed reactions. But, there is one thing everyone agrees upon- he bared his soul in this open letter.
His bitterness, his idea of accountability, Congress’ stultification, his fears for the transparency of the electoral procedure are there for everyone to read and analyze.
Maybe that is why he penned such a heartfelt letter, to induce people to contemplate on the political scene.