Ashok Gehlot emerges as the central figure in Congress’ politics.


New Delhi: The CWC meeting held on Friday saw Congress’ internal politics coming to the fore. That Rahul Gandhi is unable to muster up courage to lead the party once again was one of the messages that the Congress Working Committee sent out. The Congress would continue to be functioning as per Rahul Gandhi’s wish like how it is doing at present. The clear message to the disgruntled leaders is that they may exit the party if Rahul Gandhi’s style of working is unacceptable to them.

The third important point is that the Gandhi family has given high importance to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot as far as Congress’ politics is concerned. He will be a central figure of the Congress’ politics at least till the results of five state elections are out by June.

The Kerala poll outcome will determine the party’s politics in future, for the results of Bengal, Assam, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu will not have much bearing on the politics of Congress. However, a victory in any of these four states would be a bonus for the Congress.

Whatever happened in the CWC was not at all unexpected. Rather, it happened on the expected lines, as per the script of the strategists. Gandhis had made it clear that they are not going to succumb to any pressure.

K.C. Venugopal, AICC general secretary in-charge of party organisation, visited Jaipur as part of what is being seen as strategy formulation. The strategy so formulated got reflected in CWC meeting. Gehlot led from the front and gave a strong and straightforward message to the dissenters. Gandhi was aware that the dissenters’ group would resort to political tricks in organizational polls. The camp of the disgruntled leaders sought elections for president post, 12 CWC members and Central Election Committee.

In fact, the Gandhi family could have given its nod for elections as it has a solid support base in all the state units, including all the AICC delegates who have been shortlisted as per its strategy. But the organizational elections were postponed making the five state polls as ground for this decision.

However, it is also being said that Rahul Gandhi is reluctant to take charge of the party, given the party being weak. Secondly, the Gandhi family wanted to give a message to the dissenters that it is not doing anything under their pressure. These are said to be the main reasons behind postponement of organizational elections. Leaders close to Gandhis believe that some of the dissenters are working at the instance of BJP.

But the question is whether the circumstances will change by June. Informed sources believe that there will be a much bigger challenge before the Congress by then. Five state poll results will be there to be followed by elections in big states like UP early next year. What would be Congress’ move if it could not win any of five states and if BJP achieved something big in Bengal? The only hope of the Congress is in Kerala. It has some hope of winning Assam and Puducherry. Congress’ ally DMK is hopeful of a win in Tamil Nadu.

Meanwhile, some believe that Kerala is not going to be an easy battle for Congress which is facing factionalism in this southern state. The high command has engaged Oommen Chandy somewhere else. So, all the political and electoral responsibility has come down on Ashok Gehlot.

Gehlot has to face an electoral challenge in Rajasthan as well, because there will be bypolls in four Assembly seats in the desert state, along with Kerala Assembly polls. Gehlot will continue to be the central figure of the Congress politics if he succeeds in helping the party win Kerala and consolidate its position in his home state Rajasthan.