The Congress seems divided over the Pegasus snoopware scandal. While Rahul Gandhi’s phone is a part of the list from a leaked database that is believed to be linked to potential targets of Pegasus. Forbidden Stories, a French media non-profit, accessed and shared the database with a consortium of 15 other international media partners
While Rahul Gandhi clearly feels that this is too serious an issue not to take up with the government, the older guard,especially the Rajya Sabha MPs are not too sure. They are of the view that the issue may not reverberate beyond the capital and instead want to focus on the economy, farmers and Covid mishandling. But with Rahul taking on the government himself (the “impromptu” presser outside parliament for one), Congress spokespersons are in full attack mode.
IS THE PUNJAB MODEL HERE TO STAY?
There is a lot of speculation within the Congress that Sidhu’s elevation has sparked off a Punjab model that could be copied in Rajasthan as well. However, that this would be a template where all members of the old guard would be replaced by the GenNext heir apparent does not make sense. For one, unlike Captain Amarinder Singh of Punjab, the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot enjoys a good rapport with Rahul Gandhi. And while Sidhu can be limited to Punjab and will forever be dependent on the high command to ensure his position, this is not the case with Sachin Pilot, who has his own stature within the party. Similarly, for Bhupesh Baghel, the CM of Chhattisgarh. He too has a good equation with Rahul and there is little likelihood of him having to share his chief ministership with his rival. In Uttarakhand, the party has gone with a member of the older guard, Harish Rawat (though why they didn’t free him earlier from Punjab is another mystery). Therefore, the changes will be on a case by case basis more than one size fits all template. And Sidhu’s elevation has as much to do with the Captain’s equation with the Gandhis as it does with Sidhu’s own comfort level with Rahul and Priyanka.
What next for Priyanka?
Will Priyanka Gandhi Vadra be also given charge of Punjab and Uttarakhand along with Uttar Pradesh? A recent column by Rasheed Kidwai, the author of 24 Akbar Road sparked off speculation within the Congress. This would explain the elevation of Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has a better equation with Priyanka than Rahul. She has been involved in Punjab affairs, even campaigning for Sidhu in the last Lok Sabha polls. Also, in terms of optics, both Punjab and Uttarakhand are two states that are coming up for Assembly elections along with Uttar Pradesh.And unlike UP, these are also two states where the Congress feels it has a chance. As for Uttar Pradesh, the Congress has an uphill task ahead though there are some party workers who feel that the only way to rejuvenate the cadre is if Priyanka is declared as the CM face of the party. This if you recall was the advice that Prashant Kishor gave the Congress in 2017 and even Digvijaya Singh had suggested to Rahul Gandhi in 2012 when he was incharge of Uttar Pradesh. Watch this space for more on this.