Only Rahul can pull party out of doldrum, says Amarinder

RSTV Bureau
FILE: New Delhi: Punjab Congress president Capt Amrinder Singh speaks as looks on the Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh  at the release of the party manifesto for the assembly elections in Punjab, at AICC Headquaters in New Delhi, Jan 9, 2016. Photo - PTI

FILE: New Delhi: Punjab CM Capt Amrinder Singh with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at AICC Headquaters in New Delhi, Jan 9, 2016.
Photo – PTI

Punjab Chief Minister and veteran Congressman Capt. Amarinder Singh has said that new Congress president should be appointed through consensus and not election as it helps to bind the party. Per him, current vice president of the party Rahul Gandhi is the only one.

He also said that it was up to Sonia Gandhi whether she will continue as party chief for another term and the party will be happy if she decides so.

“Elections are always bitter and consensus keeps the party together. There should be a consensus on the party president,” he said, adding, “You don’t have any bad blood. It is all happening in a happy way…”

Amarinder Singh, however, favoured projection of regional leaders in Congress and making them the party’s face in each state ahead of assembly elections. The position he has long held.

The organisational election process within the Congress party is underway and the new party chief has to be elected by October 15.

Sonia-Gandhi-n-Rahul-Gandhi-400x265On Sonia Gandhi, he said it will be entirely her call on whether to continue for another term till 2019.

“She has worked very hard. If she wants to stay, I think the party will be too happy. If she wants to go, I think Rahul is in a position to take over… . As party Vice President, I have been dealing with him for 2-3 years, I find that he is certainly up to it,” he said.

He, however, said his impression is that she feels she has done enough. She has not had time off for the last 20 years, which is a long time, ever since she took over as party chief in 1997, Amarinder said.

Asked whether he prefers someone other than a member of the Gandhi family to lead the party, he said traditionally the Congress has been headed by a member of the Nehru Gandhi family. From Motilal Nehru to Jawaharlal Nehru and then Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi, except for some leaders in between, he said.

“I am going to vote for Rahul. Who else do we have,” he said.

Rahul Gandhi has been under spotlight for series of defeats party has suffered ever since his elevation to the rank of vice president. Under his campaign, the grand old party suffered a major defeat in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, scoring just 44, its lowest ever tally.

Since then, the party has suffered humiliating defeats from state assemblies to even local bodies. However, Punjab was the only exception, where it won last in March.

“I think one must not write off Rahul. People are trying to write him off. They are trying to fob him off, calling him childish names. That is unnecessary. I think he is very perceptive and very decisive,” Amarinder Singh said.

On promoting regional talent within the party, Amarinder said every state has regional leaders unlike in the past and the Congress has to project them ahead of elections, as people these days vote for a face.

On the current state of affairs in the Congress, which has lost one election after another except Punjab, the state chief minister said he is not worried about the situation as the country moved in a cycle, which will soon reverse.

“Today there may be an upswing for BJP, but who knows two years hence,” he said.

(With inputs from the PTI)