Factionalism has again intensified over Rahul’s proposed appointment as Congress president.
New Delhi: Assam and Kerala debacles have added to the woes of Congress, with a big section of the party extremely unhappy with Rahul Gandhi and his team. Factionalism has again intensified in the party over Rahul Gandhi’s proposed appointment as Congress president.
Indications are that the party would take a big decision regarding the leadership only after assembly elections in UP, Uttarakhand, and Punjab next year. There is a possibility of a Gandhi family member contesting party president polls by fielding a non-Gandhi leader.
The elections of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Himachal, and Madhya Pradesh will also be important for the Congress after UP. The results of these state elections will be important from the point of view of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
Congress is not in a position to do something substantial in UP. At the same time, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh is grappling with the infighting in Punjab. AAP may benefit from the Congress being divided in Uttarakhand. There is hardly any hope of high command taking any big decision regarding these states as well. Bihar and Kerala are the two states where the high command did not do anything.
Moreover, Congress may be satisfied with the TMC victory in Bengal, but there is no possibility of Mamata Banerjee going with Congress in the future. With non-BJP parties divided, Mamata would be averse to joining Central politics. At the same time, Congress is unwilling to quit the leadership role in the opposition block. So, Mamata would always prefer to go with the parties against Congress in the different states. For example, Mamata may go with Akhilesh in Uttar Pradesh if so required.
Now, the bigger concern for Congress is how to go about the elections ahead. Rahul Gandhi would certainly continue to do politics like before. He will be relying on his core team members such as KC Venugopal, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Ajay Maken, Jitendra Singh, and Rajeev Satav.
What has to be seen is whether Rahul will allow UP to be handled independently by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Priyanka’s sudden exit from the Assam campaign had led to certain speculation about her activeness in other states. However, she is continuing to target UP CM Yogi Adityanath over one issue or the other.
Change of guard in UP Congress is also unlikely despite massive defeat in panchayat polls recently. Priyanka may allow Ajay Kumar Lallu to continue as party chief in UP.
What is also of paramount importance is whether poll strategist Prashant Kishor will be helping Congress in UP as well. He is already helping Amarinder Singh in Punjab. After success in Bengal, a lot of speculation is doing the rounds about Prashant’s association with Congress. The possibility of Prashant helping Congress in MP in the future is also there as his relations with Kamal Nath are good. But Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot does not favour the idea of taking help from any outsider. Gehlot did not have therefore any meeting with Kishor as of now.
But the main issue at this point is what strategy Congress should formulate for the elections to be held after eight months. Nothing substantial seems to be done by Rahul Gandhi, who took more seats than RJD in Bihar and could not ensure a win. Similarly, going by the advice of KC Venugopal and Ramesh Chennithala, Rahul forced former CM Oommen Chandy to remain in Delhi. He was sent during elections to Kerala but was not projected as CM. Congress is facing the same situation in Uttarakhand and Punjab as well.
Pratap Singh Bajwa, Ramnit Singh Bittu, and Navjot Singh Siddhu are not getting along well with Amarinder in Punjab. Punjab PCC chief Sunil Jakhar is also against Amarinder. Punjab in-charge Harish Singh Rawat is himself struggling in Uttarakhand. He wants Rahul to project him as the leader in the state. But Rahul had given state charge to Preetam Singh. At the advice of Venugopal, Rahul Gandhi has made politically inexperienced leader Devendra Yadav in charge of Uttarakhand.
Moreover, Priyanka has been unable to make any impact in UP. There is no influential face in the Congress for UP. As a result, Congress continues to be in trouble in UP and Uttarakhand.