The war within the Congress is now out in the open. The recent statement by Sandeep Dikshit, two-time MP from East Delhi and son of former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit that Sonia Gandhi continues to be the best bet for the revival of the party, is clearly an expression of no confidence in the abilities of party vice president Rahul Gandhi. Dikshit, who had, at one stage, spoken in favour of Rahul, is obviously peeved at being totally ignored during the recent Assembly polls in the capital, where the Congress was unable to win even a single seat. And for those who are acquainted with the way the grand old party functions, Dikshit has been egged on by a lobby to say what he has said. There is no way that he would speak against Rahul’s elevation, when it is common knowledge that Sonia Gandhi herself wants that.
The cleverly worded observations by the former MP, who himself owes his political existence to his mother, reflect the views of several members of the Sonia coterie, who have used their collective might to keep Rahul at bay by blaming him for every debacle of the party. However, the truth is that the Sonia coterie is itself responsible for the plight the Congress is in at this stage. Therefore, it is indeed strange that Dikshit, who very well knows that the worst Congress performance in the Parliamentary polls has been under the overall leadership of Sonia Gandhi, still wants her to continue as the party chief. Does he want that from 44 the party should go down further in the next polls? Dikshit is not the only one, but Milind Deora, Priya Dutt and Sachin Pilot are also amongst younger leaders who are favouring Sonia’s continuation. In other words, they are speaking the language of the coterie who feels that once the Congress president gets replaced, its influence would start diminishing. None of them can openly oppose Rahul, so the best way for them to communicate their opinion is by backing Sonia, thus leaving the rest to the political implication of such a view.
There are several stories doing the rounds on why Rahul Gandhi has gone on a sabbatical, when his presence would have helped him take over as his mother’s successor in the near future. By taking time off during the budget session, a message has been sent out that he was a reluctant leader, not willing to accept responsibility. It is being said that his late father had finished his full term as the country’s Prime Minister by the time he was 45 years old and Rahul who shall turn 45 in June this year has yet to begin his full fledged innings on his own accord. Several senior leaders have stated that ideally speaking, Rahul should have been the leader of the Congress group in the Lok Sabha and that would have given him a platform to take on the Modi government head on. How this would have happened with such poor numbers is something no one has been able to explain. And there is no guarantee that Rahul’s attempts would not have been sabotaged like they have been in the past by those close to his mother. His primary agenda is to get rid of some of the seniors and that can happen only if his mother steps down to pave the way for his takeover.
There is also a story doing the rounds, which appears very improbable given the close bond between Rahul and his mother, Sonia and sister, Priyanka. It is being said that Rahul had a spat with his sister over the manner in which the Congress has been functioning. Priyanka, who is seen by many in the party as the person who would ultimately inherit Indira Gandhi’s political legacy, is understood to have told him that he was free to do whatever he wanted to do in the party and could appoint anybody he wanted to. But the only thing which would remain unchanged would be that their mother Sonia Gandhi shall continue to be the president and chief patron of the party as long as she is there. It is also not known why Priyanka would say all this, but many in the Congress insist that this provoked Rahul to withdraw himself from party affairs, momentarily. In this context, Dikshit’s opinion is being seen by his many critics as replication of views in favour of Sonia in order to please Priyanka. Another frivolous story says that Rahul has got married and was therefore not politically active. If this was the case, why would he keep it a secret?
While no one can vouch for the veracity of many other such stories, the fact of the matter is that a lot of effort is being put to ensure that Rahul takes over as the party president next month. Whether that happens or not, only time will tell. Between us.