- Shashi Tharoor explains insistence on having Gandhis in leadership
- He says party has felt for "sometime" that they have been "effective"
- No time for Congress to "sit and mope" as state polls due, he said
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Monday explained the party's insistence on having the Gandhi family in the leadership role, saying the party has felt for "sometime" that they have been "effective". He also underscored that with several state elections due to come up this year, there is no time for the Congress to "sit and mope".
The Congress's leadership question has been thrown wide open following the party's crushing defeat in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections - its second after the worst-ever performance in 2014, when the party could bag only 44 Lok Sabha seats.
Party chief Rahul Gandhi has been insistent on his decision to step down from the post and despite party leaders' repeated refusal, asked it to look for a replacement. He has also made it clear that the replacement cannot be his mother or sister.
"The party has to be led effectively," Shashi Tharoor told NDTV on Monday evening. "The party's own conviction has been for some time that we are most effectively led by the Gandhi-Nehru family. That's why there has been no challenger to either Sonia or Rahul Gandhi during their leadership years," he said.
The Congress has been led mostly by members of the Nehru-Gandhi family since Independence. It did not do well under Sitaram Kesri - who took over after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi for a few years -- and several leaders convinced Sonia Gandhi to take over.
Rahul Gandhi, Mr Tharoor said, has impressed everyone by his willingness to take responsibilities. That he is serious on the resignation, shows "he is taking it on the chin and taking it personally," he added.
But Mr Tharoor also emphasised that the issues facing the party are "too important to be reduced to a question of an individual" and "it is unfair to Rahul Gandhi and to the Congress party".
Mr Gandhi has been firm on his resolve - announced at the closed-door meeting of the Working Committee on Saturday. On Monday, he categorically told a couple of senior leaders that the party should look for his replacement.
"The party president has taken his stand. We just have to watch that space and see what comes out of it," Shashi Tharoor said.