This is perhaps the first time that the three members of the Gandhi family are terribly at odds. Rahul has reportedly been urged by mother Sonia and sister Priyanka to remain in office – they are completely against his quitting. Ahmed Patel, his mother’s closest aide, apparently warned him at today’s meeting that the Congress will split if a Gandhi does not helm it.
Rahul Gandhi so far has been inflexible. Sonia, who holds the distinction of the Congress’ longest-serving President, has given a giant hint about her feelings in a letter to her constituency Raebareli. She writes “I know that the coming days are going to be very tough, but I am fully confident that with the power of your support and trust, the Congress will meet every challenge.”
The letter was written on May 24, the day before Gandhi offered to quit. Congress leaders who I spoke to before writing this column say that Gandhi had discussed his determination to quit with his mother and sister. Top leaders present at the Congress Working Committee on Saturday, where Rahul Gandhi made his stand clear, told me that while Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was overwrought and emotional, Sonia Gandhi did not say a word.
Priyanka said her brother could not alone shoulder the blame for the election disaster. After her sibling finished speaking, she accused party leaders of not following his lead in the campaign – by ignoring his cue on the Rafale scandal, for example. “He got no support from all you. He fought alone and made Modi nervous. But, why did none of you back him and expose the government?” she reportedly said.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (seen here with Jyotiraditya Scindia at the CWC) has reportedly urged her brother Rahul Gandhi to remain in office
Sonia Gandhi has a one-line response to her son’s desire – the Gandhis do not quit public responsibility. She has reportedly said he has a huge legacy to live up to and must not duck the responsibility of ensuring that India’s oldest political party does not splinter.
Rahul Gandhi’s charge that the top leaders of the Congress only focused on perpetuating their family dynasties by putting up their sons for election and focusing on their campaigns while the Gandhi family got the flak as fifth-generation dynasts has become something of a conviction with him.