Congress lawmaker Shashi Tharoor has sounded a warning for his party, saying there is growing discontent within and exodus of more leaders, as in Goa, is likely if the leadership issue is not sorted out soon. Speaking to NDTV, Mr Tharoor said he supported Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh's call for Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to take over, but that she too should be "elected and not selected".
It has been more than two months since Rahul Gandhi resigned as the Congress president. But there has been no sign of any decision on who would succeed him. But the Congress - mostly led by the Nehru-Gandhi family post-Independence -- has been unable to take even a step towards zeroing in on a successor. While quitting, Mr Gandhi had made it clear that the party would have to look for a non-Gandhi leader and his sister has once turned down the job already.
The lawmaker from Thiruvananthapuram said privately, many parliamentarians are "upset with the state of affairs".
"MPs are speaking out privately. It happens behind closed doors. A lot of people came to me and said they were 100 per cent behind what I said," Mr Tharoor told NDTV. "I am speaking out because I got tired of colleagues saying their views to me. Until someone bells the cat, we will continue doing this behind doors in hushed whispers... This is not the right way, we should engage and inspire the citizens of the country... The fact that we don't have an interim president discredits the party," he said.
But the leader, who once explained why the Congress does better under the Gandhis, said: "The last word on the subject so far is that the Gandhi family is not interested. I would rather speak for a process."
In an earlier interview, Mr Tharoor told NDTV that 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".
The next leader of the Congress, he said, should be picked through election, not selection as it would give the leader legitimacy that cannot be questioned. When Sonia Gandhi was elected president, it added to her stature, "because she became an anointed one and not appointed one," he said.
The next leader, he said, should be young, since the party needs fresh blood. But he made it clear that he would not be in the running, as it was an organisational issue.