According to the schedule determined by the Congress Working Committee, the Indian National Congress will be electing its new President by September 20th, 2022. The party has already held elections for block committees and the state-level Pradesh Congress Committees. The President of the party is elected by the delegates of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC), which are nominated by the state-level Pradesh Committees. The members of these state committees are in turn nominated or elected by district-level bodies. It is important to remember that the AICC will be conducting its first election for the post of President since 2017, when Rahul Gandhi was elected unopposed. In the aftermath of the Congress’ poor showing in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi resigned as the leader of the party. Since then, Sonia Gandhi has been serving as the interim President. The inability of the party to elect a consensus candidate since the 2019 polls is an indicator of the malaise that India’s first political party finds itself in. Even now, there is no clear indication of whether Rahul Gandhi will stand for these elections or that another candidate will attempt to attain the top post of the party.
Currently, the INC finds itself at a crossroads. Even though it is still India’ s second-largest party based on vote share, it is rapidly losing ground to the BJP and regional parties. Since 2014, the Congress has lost numerous state-governments due to defections of its legislators to the BJP. The scale of these defections is an indicator of the dissatisfaction that regional-level politicians hold towards the party leadership. At the same time, the top party bosses maintain that there can be no Congress without the Gandhi family. In this regard, there is a clear dissonance between the desires of the grassroots base of the Indian National Congress and the influential sectors of the party.