The stepping aside of the Gandhi family from the leadership role in the Congress following its debacle in the Lok Sabha elections is not a solution, a senior party leader said Friday, hinting that other leaders may not be able to hold the party together.
Four-time MLA Marri Shashidhar Reddy said the Gandhi family has been the “binding force” for the party, keeping it intact, amid critics calling for its members to make way for others to lead after the crushing defeat.
“So, that (Gandhi family members resigning from posts) is not something which provides a solution,” Mr Reddy, also former vice-chairman of National Disaster Management Authority, told PTI.
“The Gandhi family is not just individuals. The family has been the binding factor, it evolved like this over the decades, and in between we had breaks (without Gandhi family members at the helm), the results have not been good,” he said.
“Now also (in Lok Sabha elections), expectations have been belied, things this time did not work out but it cannot said that somebody else would have done a better job”, the son of former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister M Channa Reddy said.
Asked if he thought a member of the Gandhi family is a good bet to hold the party together, he said: “Yes, absolutely”.
“Another person may not be able to hold the party together the way (the Gandhi family did),” he claimed.
In a big country like India, the outreach and appeal of any other individual leader in the party is limited, according to him.
“You need a leader to reach out to the people. And that kind of an appeal to reach to people is something which, all other leaders…limited kind of appeal or reach,” he said.
Stating that Rahul Gandhi has matured as a leader and grown in stature, Mr Reddy said he does not doubt the leadership capability of the Congress president.
On the Congress debacle in the elections, he said the party had a “very well-prepared” manifesto but probably it did not “reach the people” in a way that would counter Narendra Modi’s “appeal on various things he has talked about”.
“It could not reach the people in a way that would counter campaign and appeal made by Modi,” Mr Reddy, who was chairman of the Election Commission Coordination Committee of the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee, said.
He said the performance of the Congress under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership in the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh last year was “encouraging”.
“He (Rahul Gandhi) can build the party, understand its drawbacks, go state-by-state. He will be able to do it, he should it,” Mr Reddy said when asked how the party can be strengthened.
“It’s an enormous task. We have different people with different agendas within the Congress party. I think picking the right people for the responsibilities at various levels will be key,” Mr Reddy said.
He also said the party’s central in-charge in states should convey to the outfit’s leadership “ground realities” so that decision-making would be better.