Is this why Congress is struggling to find its next president ?
Prakash K Dutta
Sitaram Kesri was another loyalist of the Gandhi family who fell out of favour after becoming president of the Congress. Kesri had succeeded Rao as the Congress president after having served the party as national treasurer for a long time.
When Sonia Gandhi decided to enter politics in December 1997, Kesri called her a "saviour" in an interview to India Today. But all changed by the middle of March 1998. The Congress Working Committee passed a resolution sacking Kesri as the party president and asking Sonia Gandhi to take over the reins of the party.
But Kesri held on and refused to vacate the chair. Kesri was reportedly forced out of his office. Some commentators said Kesri was locked up in a toilet when a triumphant Sonia Gandhi entered the Congress headquarters. After Sonia Gandhi assumed the office of Congress president, Kesri was let out of the restroom and escorted out of the party office.
Many believe that this was the real reason why senior leaders Sharad Pawar, PA Sangma and Tariq Anwar left the Congress party citing Sonia Gandhi's foreign origins.
Both Rao and Kesri were Gandhi loyalists but were humiliated. This memory is apparently holding many of the old guard to come forward and offer to lead the Congress party till Rahul Gandhi or another Gandhi is ready to lead the party again. That the Gandhis are the strongest glue for the party is not debated or doubted in the Congress. India Today