Organisational reshuffle becomes a major challenge for the Gandhi scion.


New Delhi: Smarting under the defeat in Kerala, Congress former president Rahhul Gandhi is under tremendous pressure in view of the forthcoming Assembly elections. Though the Gandhi scion has decided to make organizational changes at various levels, his problem, at the same time, is that most of the leaders close to him have given dismal performance.

There is no denying that K.C. Venugopal, Jitendra Singh and Jitin Prasad are some of Rahul’s loyalists who failed in Kerala, Assam and Bengal. Again, it was Rahul Gandhi’s loyalists whose mistakes in Bihar elections resulted in RJD’s sufferings. Randeep Singh Surjewala was the Bihar in-charge. Sources say that Rahul Gandhi may assign responsibilities to some experienced and veteran leaders so that internal fights could be contained. The probe panel set up by the Congress high command has attributed the party’s poor performance in five states, including the Kerala defeat, mainly to faction fighting in the party.

Interestingly, when this report was submitted to Congress’ interim president Sonia Gandhi, the party was grappling with the fight among Punjab Congress leaders. That is not all. Ministers in Rajasthan were in clash with one another. Punjab and Rajasthan are the only big states ruled by Congress, with Chhattisgarh being the small state.

The Congress high command has intervened in Punjab just six months before the elections in the state. So, the fight came out on the street and in public domain. Some say that the high command should have avoided intervening in Punjab’s internal fight at this point of time as it is CM Amarinder Singh who has to lead the party in assembly polls. Congress doesn’t have any alternative as well. Congress has an opportunity to retain Punjab but the high command has chosen to meddle in the internal matters at the wrong time. The Opposition got a much-needed chance to attack the Congress. It means what is happening in Punjab confirms the panel’s report on Kerala defeat. Some believe that this fight will not end before assembly elections.

What is troubling Rahul Gandhi is that it is his and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s loyal Navjot Singh Siddhu who is playing a spoilsport in Punjab. This is how Kerala and Assam were lost. The blame lies with the high command for this. Rahul Gandhi relied too much on his loyals K.C. Venugopal and Ramesh Chennithala. Former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy was sidelined. Tariq Anwar, who returned to Congress some time ago, could not do anything to iron out the differences between the warring groups.

Similarly, Jitendra Singh, who had a back record in Odisha, was made in-charge of Assam, replacing Harish Rawat. There was neither any face from Congress, nor was there any policy or issue. As a result, Congress could stage a comeback in Assam as well. What youth leaders did after getting some significant responsibility was that they started challenging the old guards. Rajasthan is an example of this. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is facing a challenge from his own party leaders. Another leader close to Rahul Gandhi, Ajay Maken has been ineffective in Rajasthan. There is no end to the list of unsuccessful leaders who are close to Rahul Gandhi. There are several states such as Delhi, MP, Rajasthan, Haryana, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh Maharashtra and Gujarat, where crisis cropped up owing to failure of these leaders.

Some of these leaders are still working with Rahul Gandhi as strategists. The High command is still indecisive for the states going to polls early next. Only it has some plan for UP. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has taken charge of UP. She has decided to push new faces instead of older ones. Leaders like Pramod Krishnana are keen on being appointed as PCC chief in place of Ajay Kumar Lallu. Rahul is said to be in a dilemma over what to do in UP.

Congress is not united in Uttarakhand as well. Rahul Gandhi has given party charge to youth face Pritam Singh in the hill state. Former Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat wants Rahul Gandhi to give him the state charge. What is presenting a wrong picture is that Rawat is sort of running a parallel organisation in the state. Rawat has been the member of the team which was engaged in resolving the Punjab crisis.

According to sources, PCC chiefs may be changed in Punjab and Uttarakhand. The picture will be clear soon whether Siddhu or an Amarinder loyalist gets appointed Punjab Congress unit chief.

Similarly, if Harish Rawat is sent to Uttarakhand, then Punjab will get a new AICC leader as in charge. Changes are on the cards for Manipur and Goa as well. A new face as in charge of Gujarat is also being searched.

Congress is not what it used to be at the time of Ahmed Patel in Gujarat. Rajiv Satav, who was holding charge of Gujarat, is now no more. An experienced leader may be made in charge of Gujarat where election will be held soon after Uttar Pradesh.

Rajiv Shukla may be replaced as in-charge of Himachal Pradesh. A decision on Bengal is also on the anvil. Rahul Gandhi had given Jitin Prasad a chance to work for Bengal, but the result was disappointing. Bengal may have a new in-charge and PCC president. Rahul Gandhi has no other option, but to bank on the experienced and old generation leaders.