Urging Rahul Gandhi to return as the Congress president has been a routine demand of the party’s leaders and workers at its meetings since his resignation from the post in 2019 in the wake of the Lok Sabha poll debacle. But the party MP from Kerala, T N Prathapan’s demand at the ongoing Congress Chintan Shivir in Rajasthan’s Udaipur was remarkable. Participating in the discussions held by one of the party groups, he said Rahul should take over as the Congress president but added that “the AICC president shall be a full-time and consistent leader who will be available whenever the party and the country looks for it”.
Moreover, Prathapan said, Rahul should undertake a Bharat yatra for establishing a “better connection” with the masses. He feels that Congress chief Sonia Gandhi should continue as the UPA chairperson but the alliance must be expanded before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. “We (Congress) need to take a liberal stand for expansion of the UPA,” he said. “For that we need to have open-minded discussions with all non-NDA parties. Congress shall drop dead-end demands for power. Instead it shall be very liberal with power, and we need to set the agenda for reclaiming of this country from communal fascism.”
Keeping media at a friendly distance
While the media was kept away from the Chintan Shivir venue, some of the senior Congress leaders visited the media enclave — a make-shift structure set up some distance away from the venue — to enquire about the facilities and engage in chit-chat with journalists. Playing the role of a good host, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, accompanied by AICC general secretary in charge of communication Randeep Surjewala, walked into the media enclave in the afternoon. Senior Rajasthan Congress leader Sachin Pilot was however the first one to arrive there. Then came former Uttarakhand CM and CWC member, Harish Rawat, followed by Subodh Kant Sahay and Acharya Pramod.
Pitch for ‘most popular face’ Priyanka as Cong president
Making a pitch for Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as the Congress chief if Rahul Gandhi is not willing to take up the post, Acharya Pramod said Priyanka is the party’s “most popular” face and should take over its leadership in case Rahul is not willing to accept it. The UP Congress leader’s demand came in the midst of deliberations over organisational revamp and reforms at the party’s brainstorming conclave. He said Sonia Gandhi has called for “Chintan, Manthan and Parivartan (discussion, debate and change)” and that the youth should get a chance to lead the party from the front and bring it back to power. He said crores of people in the country and lakhs of Congress workers want that Rahul should take over the party reins again and that since he had resigned on moral ground some people had also criticised his decision. But if “for some reason” Rahul is not willing to take it, then crores of people and Congress workers also want that Priyanka should replace him for the job, he added.