Congress may go for Rahul's image makeover before giving him another stint as chief

Rahul Gandhi
Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi, party leader Rahul Gandhi and others during a meeting of AICC General Secretaries, In-charges, PCC Presidents and CLPs on day 2 of the party's 'Nav Sankalp Shivir', in Udaipur. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi's return as president of the Congress party is a foregone conclusion as the leaders who participated in the brainstorming session, 'Chintan Shivir', at Udaipur in Rajasthan were supportive to the idea though there were sceptics too.

Even though no formal discussions on the president took place at the event, party leaders raised the issue during their interactions. Some leaders suggested Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot for the post and Sachin Pilot heading the state government. However, Gehlot was found to lack national acceptance. With no other suitable face familiar all around the country, everyone suggested Rahul once again.

However, several leaders are not in favour of Rahul leading the party again as he was no match for BJP leader and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 and 2019. In fact, many of these leaders publicly support Rahul, but oppose him in private.

Some proposes that Rahul should take over only after engaging in some efforts aimed at rebuilding his image.

Meanwhile, the Congress has realized that Modi could attract wide popularity mainly through marketing and public relations activities. The party is now planning similar efforts for Rahul.

Age limit

Another issue that cropped up at the Chintan shivir was an age-limit of 65 years for party office-bearers. This demand of youth leaders was, however, rejected by the Congress Working Committee (CWC), offering much relief to the senior leaders.

Interestingly, some curious interactions took place over the matter. One was when senior leader Jairam Ramesh arrived at a meeting of the youth affairs committee. As soon as he reached the venue, Priyanka Gandhi asked Ramesh his age. "If the demand of the youth (of an age limit of 65 years) is accepted, I will be unemployed," replied Ramesh.

Similarly, another senior leader Mukul Wasnik asked Amarinder Singh Brar, who heads the youth affairs committee, "Why do you wish to create unnecessary problems in the party?"

Later, Brar also was invited to the CWC meeting which discussed the matter. There, yet another senior leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda related an old incident to Brar. "Once, the late party leader Jagjivan Ram stumbled while walking at a party meeting as he was in advanced age and had to be helped. Some youth leaders who witnessed it chuckled. Ram noticed them and quipped, "Every elderly person was once young," said Hooda.

Hooda's intention was to convey the pulse of the senior leaders to the youth.

At the same, the final resolution passed by the CWC mentions that a demand was raised regarding the age limit for office-bearers. The youth leaders feel that this is a major step as they would be able to pursue the issue further in future party meetings. Another major boost for the youth is the decision of the Congress to allot 50 per cent of the party posts and candidature to those aged below 50 years.

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