New Delhi: Hitting the streets against the gruesome Hathras incident in Uttar Pradesh and against farm laws in Punjab, Congress’ former president Rahul Gandhi not only tried to give a new lease of life to the party, but also succeeded in sending out a stern message to the party leaders to be disciplined. The Gandhi scion also made it clear to the leaders that they will have to hit the streets like this. That he will not heed any complaint against seniors and experienced leaders was also the message he has given out. There is no denying that Rahul Gandhi in some way tried to put an end to the ongoing tussle between old guards and young leaders of the party. In fact, Rahul Gandhi had given a tough message to the younger leaders, apparently close to him, when he cracked the whip in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. He actually reminded the Congress leaders of similar actions during his visit to Punjab and Haryana. No one will be tolerated speaking against seniors and Congress governments is Rahul Gandhi’s message.
There are indications that the Congress will now be united and move forward under his leadership. If Rahul Gandhi succeeds in ending the fight between old and young leaders, the Congress would be able to fight back. In the last several years, what was seen was Congress grappling with infighting rather than giving any fight to the Modi government. This was the reason why it lost power in states such as Karnataka, Goa and Madhya Pradesh. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot somehow managed to save Rajasthan government due to his political experience. However, Sachin Pilot, who had turned rebel jeopardising the government, is still critical of the Congress government in Rajasthan. This is creating a negative impact on the party and the government in Rajasthan.
Party functionaries, however, believe that the situation will change after the tough message given by Rahul Gandhi during the Punjab and Haryana visit. Before his kisan yatra in Punjab, Rahul Gandhi tried to ensure that Navjot Singh Siddhu, who is not getting along well with Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, is mollified. He, in fact, sent Harish Rawat, the AICC general secretary in charge of Punjab, to Siddhu’s residence. Rahul Gandhi’s attempt was to see that Congress is united in Punjab. Siddhu did come out to join the rally, but he did not fall in line. He started being critical of the Amarinder government in the presence of Rahul Gandhi, regardless of the fact that the Congress former boss is not willing to listen to all this now. As a result, Siddhu was sent out of the kisan yatra the very next day. Rawat had to make a strong statement that “there is no place for Siddhu in the party”. It was a strong message which was delivered at the behest of Rahul Gandhi. His message was that indiscipline and complaints against chief ministers and party chiefs won’t be tolerated. This message will impact the Congress politics in Punjab and other states. Rahul Gandhi’s message was clear that being close to him does not allow anyone to do what weakens the party. Apart from Siddhu, former Punjab Congress chief Pratap Singh Bajwa has also been critical of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Rahul Gandhi has hinted that Siddhu is not going to get anything in the party. He said that Amarinder Singh is an acceptable leader to all in Punjab. The stature of Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar has also grown as was evident from his being the “pilot” of the tractor carrying Rahul Gandhi. It is clear that Congress will fight the next elections under the leadership of Amarinder and Jakhar.
Rahul Gandhi’s message in Punjab had its impact on Haryana also, where Congress, which is faction ridden, looked to be united. Haryana in-charge Vivek Bansal, former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda and PCC chief Selja Kumari appeared to be working together and tried to make the yatra a grand success.
All other senior leaders such as AICC general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala and Deepender Singh Hooda also did not spare any effort to make the yatra a success. Political observers believe that Rahul Gandhi successfully tried to establish himself as a mature leader during both the yatras. His strong message will impact the Congress politics in other states as well. Congress leaders will now avoid confrontation with leadership in the states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Uttarakhand.