The Congress general secretary should avoid creating pressure on Rahul Gandhi for Rajasthan.
New Delhi: Is AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra really helping her brother Rahul Gandhi in shooting the troubles or is she taking steps at the behest of others that land the entire Congress into trouble? The case of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh is self-explanatory about how her decisions have added to the party’s headache.
In fact, Priyanka is perhaps unable to understand that unlike the 80s and early 90s, the youth voters born after the 90s are hardly fans of the Gandhi family. These voters have other options too. Undoubtedly, this is because of local mass leaders that the Congress still has some ground in a few states. Priyanka went on sidelining experienced leaders in UP, which harmed the party. Assam, Uttarakhand and Kerala are also glaring examples of such myopic decisions. Nothing illustrates Priyanka’s wrong move better than Punjab where she relied on Navjot Singh Sidhu and Charanjit Singh Channi. Sidhu is in jail and Channi has disappeared from the political scene.
The party does not have any heavyweight at local level in the poll-bound Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. The Congress has been out of power in Gujarat for over two decades, and this is the fact responsible for the grand old party having no significant face there. In Gujarat, the Congress is struggling to somehow stay in number two position. The absence of leaders like Virbhadra Singh in Himachal Pradesh would be felt on the day of the poll result. The BJP is likely to end the tradition of change of power after every five years in Himachal. This is what it did in Uttarakhand. It means the Gandhi family charisma is not working there.
The big crowd in Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in Madhya Pradesh is actually the result of former CM Kamal Nath’s hard work of the last two years. If Congress gets back to power in MP in 2023, it will be because of Kamal Nath only. Similarly, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel is working hard in Chhattisgarh where senior Congress leader TS Singh Deo, who was growing ambitious for top post, has been placated by the high command. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is running the government in Rajasthan despite all obstacles. Needless to say, Gehlot and Congress are synonymous with each other in Rajasthan. If the high command had warned the rebels on time, it could have saved the party a lot of embarrassment that it faced in September. If the Gehlot government had gone due to some reasons, Rajasthan would have become another Punjab where the Congress is virtually nowhere to be seen.
In the 2018 assembly elections, the wave in Rajasthan was for PM Narendra Modi and Ashok Gehlot. Modi was the choice for the PM post and Gehlot for the CM post. Had high command projected Sachin Pilot then, the then CM Vasundhara Raje would have retained power. If Gehlot had been projected CM face in 2018, the party would have won with a comfortable majority, negating the chance of any crisis for the government.
One wonders why Priyanka chose to give protection to Pilot despite all this, leading to political instability in Rajasthan. The biggest benefit of the Congress’ internal war for the BJP is that its own infighting remains unnoticed amid all the political drama. Only Congress’ internal tussle hits the headlines, not the BJP’s infighting.
The fact is that BJP’s factionalism is more complicated than the Congress’ internal war in Rajasthan. The Saffron outfit’s internal problems might be a key factor behind the repeat of the Gehlot government, provided the Congress keeps its house in order.
Priyanka knows that Rahul is unhappy with Pilot due to the latter’s revolt against the government in 2020. Gehlot’s alertness and timely action saved his government. It was due to Gehlot’s swift action that only 19 MLAs could reach Gurugram that day, otherwise the target was to send 25 to 27 legislators including 3-4 ministers to the resort. The only thing was that the Congress MLAs in Madhya Pradesh had been told on the way to Bengaluru that they were going to join the BJP. But in Rajasthan’s case, MLAs got to know the entire plan quite earlier due to which the Operation Lotus failed. The loyalists of Gehlot did not fall into trap. Otherwise like MP, the BJP would have usurped power in Rajasthan with the help of Sachin Pilot.
After this, the high command allowed rebels including Sachin to return to party fold but on certain conditions. Gehlot did not agree to this, but he relented due to a lot of coaxing by Ahmed Patel. But the condition was that Sachin would not be given any post either in government or in the party. The MLAs would be adjusted. Some rebel legislators were given ministerial posts but Pilot was kept out.
It was during the UP polls that Priyanka started frequent communication with Pilot a year ago. Then only, she started giving him patronage. Priyanka gave Pilot some responsibilities as well. But Rahul kept his distance from him. Knowing that only Priyanka could be instrumental in his political rehabilitation in Rajasthan, Pilot started developing close rapport with Priyanka. Assisted by Ghaziabad based Congress leader Pramod Krishnan, Pilot started targeting Gehlot.
Both Rahul and Sonia Gandhi decided to elevate Gehlot as President of the Congress, allowing him at the same time to continue as CM for a few days. Sources say that Rahul had even decided to give the CM post to a Jat leader after the budget. On this, Sachin realised that his turn would not come. Following this, the September turmoil happened. It is said Priyanka’s consent was there for all that happened on 25 September. Gehlot settled the controversy by apologising. But Sachin’s supporter MLAs continued their operations to destabilise the government. All this is happening at a time when Rahul and Congress President Mallikarjuna Kharge have made it clear that Gehlot would not be “disturbed”. A big section of the party was also not happy with the development in Rajasthan. Rahul’s displeasure for Pilot continued to grow thereafter.
Pilot was well aware that he would be sidelined during the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Rajasthan. So, soon after knowing that Priyanka is joining the Yatra in MP, Sachin also immediately reached there. He got himself clicked with Rahul for a photograph during the yatra in MP. Priyanka helped him for this photo op. In fact, Pilot was waiting for this photo opportunity for a long time. As part of his strategy, he posted the photo on twitter, signalling that Rahul is with him. In the meantime, a channel ran the interview of Gehlot, which was taken at least three days ago. The impression was sought to be created that the interview was deliberately given after the photo of Pilot. But when the truth came out about the interview having been taken before the ‘photo’ was posted, the question was raised on the timing of running the interview. Delaying the telecast of the interview for two days is not logical in any way.
Whatever Gehlot said about kickbacks for horse-trading purposes was already in the public domain through the media. He actually confirmed it. He gave a message that Sachin Pilot has done something which cannot be forgiven. In other words, Sachin’s political chapter in Rajasthan Congress is closed now.
Priyanka could not understand that Rahul and Kharge do not want any controversy in Rajasthan. So why was Pilot allowed to be photographed with Rahul? The photography could have been done when Yatra would come to Rajasthan after ten days. Pilot did not wait for that and went straight to MP for photo op as part of his politics but he landed the party into fresh trouble.
In fact, Priyanka should promote the objective of Rahul’s yatra which is to sense the mood of the country. She should not do anything at the behest of others that foments trouble for the party and Rahul. The massive crowd in yatra has kept Congress’ hopes alive. Before yatra’s entry in Rajasthan, an impression was being created through the media that after Gujarat polls there would be a change in Rajasthan. It is said that there is a plan to ensure that yatra turns out to be a damp squib in Rajasthan. Already sensing this, Gehlot has made all the revelations in the interview. Sources say that Gehlot gave the interview only after taking high command into confidence. Hopefully, the opponents would remain silent now. Rahul’s yatra would give a direct message to rebels on 5 December.