Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Sunday said that “lack of clarity” over who should take over from Rahul Gandhi as the party’s chief was hurting the Congress, PTI reported. He added that there was no clear answer to the current “predicament that we in the Congress are facing”.

Rahul Gandhi had announced that he would no longer lead the party on July 3. Gandhi had accepted responsibility for the party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections. “Accountability is critical for the future growth of our party,” he had said. “It is for this reason that I have resigned as Congress president.”

“It is certainly quite true that the lack of clarity at the top of the party is likely to be hurting the Congress workers and sympathisers, many of whom miss the fact of having a party leader to look to for key decisions, authority and even inspiration and energy, to rally together and move forward,” the MP from Thiruvananthapuram said.

Tharoor also backed Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s call for a dynamic youth leader to take over from Gandhi. “In these circumstances, one would definitely like to believe that a younger leader, who has not been jaded by playing these roles for too long, would be in a better position to do both,” Tharoor said, adding that the next president will need to energise the workers and inspire people to vote for the Congress.

He said he hoped that Congress Working Committee – the highest decision-making body of the party – was taking the current situation “very seriously” and doing its best to find a solution in the matter without any further delay. The Congress Working Committee must first accept Gandhi’s resignation before the process of choosing the next chief can begin.

“One way forward could be for the CWC to name an interim working president for the party and then ideally dissolve itself, following which the main leadership positions within the party, including the CWC itself, should be opened up to fresh elections,” the former Union minister said.

“By allowing members of the party, drawn from the AICC [All India Congress Committee] and
and PCC [Pradesh Congress Committee] delegates, to determine who will lead the party from these key positions, it would help legitimise the incoming set of leaders and give them a credible mandate to lead the party,” he said.

Congress General Secretary for eastern Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi’s “natural charisma” would make her a great candidate for the party president’s post, Tharoor said. “But at the same time, Rahul Gandhi’s statement that no member from the Gandhi family should replace him, seems to rule this option out,” Tharoor said. “It is really for the Gandhi family to decide where they collectively stand on this issue”.

The 63-year-old leader, when asked if he would be interested to take on the position, said: “I’ll be honest and point out that I don’t think this is even a remotely possible scenario to speculate on.”

From an organisational perspective, he was relatively new within the Congress, he said. “I have also never held a senior organisational role like that of a General Secretary, and the organisation that I do head within the party, the All India Professionals’ Congress, while catering to an important and influential section of society, is relatively smaller just in terms of numbers,” he said.

“At the same time, as a party member, I am proud of my role articulating the party’s values, principles and policies outside and inside Parliament, and I remain invested in the process of revival and resurgence that party will have to embark on,” Tharoor added. “I will always do whatever the party requires from me to support and aid this endeavour”.

Gandhi had offered to step down as Congress president on May 25 after the party managed to win only 52 of 543 parliamentary seats in the Lok Sabha elections. Though the Congress Working Committee unanimously rejected his resignation, Gandhi remained firm on his decision. Several top leaders urged Gandhi to continue leading the party. In June, several Congress leaders resigned from their posts to give Gandhi a free hand to choose a new team.