Roadblocks ahead of the Congress: Reading Rahul Gandhi’s Mind

By Santosh Bhartiya 

Rahul Gandhi has been felicitated as new President of Congress. This event has transformed into greatest pleasure for his mother Sonia Gandhi. Since beginning she was willing that the political legacy of her family should be go to his son. However Rahul Gandhi was neither sure of his political career nor was he willing to carry forward the corresponding responsibility. Despite that, he had to contest the elections which paved the way for his entry into Parliament. He did nothing remarkable all these years. His mother tried hard to mug him with political knowledge.  During the process he was allotted responsibilities of various verticals especially the Youth Congress. While looking after this segment he experimented that the chairperson of Youth Congress will be chosen by lower representatives. Afterwards he served as general secretary of the party, followed by responsibility of vice-president. Being on this post he left no stones unturned for organizing the age-old party but all in vain. Under his vice-presidentship in whichever state congress contested, party lost pathetically. Probably the reason was Rahul Gandhi’s failure in organizing people. He remained party’s sole face which left the organization behind. Bihar which could have been a batting ground for Congress was completely ignored. Likewise in Uttar Pradesh Rahul Gandhi neglected those who were trying to uplift his party. Same is the case with Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Consequently, Congress is at all time low. In such situation when he has been crowned with the party president, the biggest challenge is to lift the party all across the country in 2019 general electionsk, that too in Hindi as well as non-Hindi region.

Senior Party Workers Needs to be Listen

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Is Rahul Gandhi going to fulfill their expectations? Would he be able to elevate Congress? Is he going to challenge Bhartiya Janata Party? Is he capable of making Indians believe that he is apt claimant for prime ministerial post? Answers to these questions lie beneath the layers of upcoming times.  It is essential to acknowledge what is striking the minds of old party workers. These are the people who devoted their 40-50 years for the party. They cannot see their party dying and hence are still trying to boost it to fullest. We talked to such people who played vital role in setting up the organization since the times of Rajiv Gandhi. Few among those were associated with the party since Indira Gandhi’s regime and they had also worked with Sanjay Gandhi. For last few decades they were working for Sonia Gandhi. These loyalists are wondering about party’s future course.


Loyalists Wish To See Gandhis Together 

The biggest drawback of Rahul is he meets only those whom he likes. He himself decides his encounters with people. Shehzad Poonawalla is one of his cousins. The later kept attacking BJP spokespersons in front of media for a long. He himself wanted to contact Rahul but he was denied appointment. Therefore when Rahul was getting appointed as party president Poonawalla opposed him openly. Not only this, he called him sponsored President though Rahul was selected in legal and unopposed. Angered by his felicitation Poonawalla initiated a campaign against his election. To everybody’s surprise even Rahul’s brother-in-law Robert Vadra was denied permission to meet him. As a result Vadra provoked Poonawalla against Rahul and readied him to speak against him. These rumours creeped in from party sources. Afterwards Robert was able to meet Rahul formally only when he was taking oath as party president. During that moment Vadra was present with his wife Priyanka.

Varun Gandhi

Lastly one unanswered question is related to Priyanka Gandhi. Party workers wish to see Priyanka as their leader. However Sonia was willing to pass her political legacy to her son. Rahul also considers bipolarization of power unsuitable. Suppose Priyanka moderately works as a member then also there are bright chances of her becoming centre of power. Whether she wants to work actively in politics or not this is yet to be known but those who meet her they specify that Priyanka is unhappy with the current structure of the party. She keeps consoling people that everything will be fine. This itself indicates that she isn’t going to enter in active politics in near future. 

Now we come on to Varun Gandhi. Six years back Rahul and Priyanka placed a proposal in front of Varun in a personal function. He was asked to join Congress so that their family can rose back to power again. Listening to this Varun laughingly down turned the proposal though Priyanka kept insisting. In effort to materialize the union Priyanka kept communicating to Varun but she failed. Now as Rahul has become party president there are anticipations that whether  he could pick Varun for a bigger role or later will continue to be with BJP as member of parliament. These days Varun is paying his visits to various universities across the country. By this, he is trying to  establish communication with the younger population. Moreover young generation also seems to be impressed from him. Yet media does not feels highlighting his endeavours. Undeterred by the under coverage where ever he goes faces local limelight. Varun does not shares warm relation with BJP leadership. Top BJP leaders are also expecting that he may leave the party sooner or later. Unmoved by such developments whether Rahul Gandhi will welcome Varun in his party,  this will be an interesting event to watch out for. Coming March may clear the suspense over party’s future course. 


Amid the crisis, a thing that kept me worried was Gujarat assembly elections. Rahul Gandhi was heard saying only three months of hard work in Gujarat earned him tremendous performance in the state. He boasted about Congress’s success of wrapping Bhartiya Janata Party at 99. Indeed his statement was surprising. When he was aware about upcoming Gujarat assembly elections why didn’t he started his preparation an year before polls? Why didn’t he focus on unifying the party? Neither he paid any attention on forming booth level committees nor did he talk to concerned leaders. Why was Shankersinh Vaghela ousted just before elections? Why didn’t Rahul communicate with him? Rahul’s single meeting with him would have stopped him from leaving the party. A year back if he would have devoted his time in Gujarat that would have materialized in Congress ruling the State. Rahul failed to nail those leaders who formed nexus with Bhartiya Janata party to defeat Congress. These were the people who were trying to deviate the party from consolidating. He spent three days in Gujarat after the polls. During this period he was supposed to analyse party’s defeat. Unfortunately in this period he invested his time in addressing people, met them but never talked about the issue.

It’s been long since the result is out but he had yet not talked to those party workers who devoted their blood and sweat continuously for 2-3 months. Apart from this, Congress leaders from other states were sent to Gujarat but Rahul hardly felt any need to discuss the cause of defeat with them. An ideal situation would have been deploying the complete Congress brigade in Gujarat, as was done in the case of Bhartiya Janata Party. Every Chief Minister, MLA, cabinet minister and parliamentarians whosoever was willing to work in Gujarat was granted permission by BJP. If Rahul would have ever thought of doing this for his own party this would have created an entirely different picture. This is beyond my head why wasn’t it being done by him. Atleast this level of IQ (intelligence quotient) is expected from Gandhi family’s heir. Who obstructed him from doing this? They might be the people who themselves want to take hold of Congress party in days to come.

Crack in Madhya Pradesh Congress

Tasks ignored by Rahul during in his tenure as vice-president badly needs to be addressed now. Let’s talk about Madhya Pradesh first. In Madhya Pradesh party is divided into various coterie. Here the loyalties of party workers are divided among Jyotiraditya Sindhiya, Kamal Nath and a former Chief Minister Digvijay Singh who is busy with Narmada Yatra these days. Rahul Gandhi recently called up a meeting in which all three of them were invited. If rumours are to be believed Digvijay suggested that if Congress wants to win in Madhya Pradesh it should promote Kamal Nath instead of Jyotiraditya Scindia as chief ministerial candidate. He also said that the influence of Jyotiraditya is limited only to a certain region and same was the case with his father Madhavrao Scindia. Both of them rarely visited other parts of the region. While Kamal Nath has ability to unite people across the state, he said. With due respect, I am writing this as the information itself cropped up from a source from Congress party. Hearing this Rahul assured Kamal Nath for announcing his name in this regard soon. However Kamal Nath is still waiting for this to happen.

As per the overall scenario Rahul wants Jyotiraditya as the face of Madhya Pradesh Congress. Undoubtedly Jyotiraditya is intelligent. So far he has served all his responsibilities well. He had earned respect among the people mostly because of his late father. Yet he can take on to Shivraj in MP is itself doubted by most of the state’s party people. Acceptance for Digvijay and Kamal Nath is far more than Jyotiraditya among the people of MP as they are often available and communicate with them. Regular communication with party workers is significant for keeping organization alive. These days Digvijay Singh is on Narmada Yatra. His rallies are flooded with people three to four thousand of which accompany him. Regardless to this fact there isn’t any word between him and party president regarding the state assembly elections. On the contrary, there have been strong indications from Rahul’s part that he did not like Digvijay. These are negative signals for Congress. Considering the current scenario chances of Congress taking on to Shivraj seems minimal. This fight will remain limited to number of seats it can snatch from BJP.

Rajasthan a Litmus Test for Pilot

There is mounting dissatisfaction in Rajasthan for Vasundhara Raje. This annoyance extends to RSS and party workers. Apparently because of changed working pattern of Raje this time. She seems indifferent towards plight of people and this has infuriated them. For the first time farmers agitation has heated up Rajasthan against the policies of Raje. Congress was supposed to encash this grand opportunity but it miserably failed to do so. Congress possesses two major leaders in the state. One among those is Ashok Gahlot, a former chief minister. Besides he has recently proved his potential in recent assembly elections in Gujarat. Here he was leading the election campaign. In spite of that Sachin Pilot has been picked up as party’s face for Rajasthan. There are strong chances of Rahul Gandhi announcing him as the chief ministerial candidate for upcoming assembly polls in the state.

While coming across the party workers of Rajasthan Congress we came to know that Sachin pilot won’t be able to win the majority. For them Ashok Gahlot is the only person who can take on to Vasundhara Raje. As confirmed by the internal sources, Gahlot has already given his cent percent in Gujarat assembly elections which is why Rahul Gandhi is all set to appoint Pilot to look after Rajasthan polls. Now it’s a challenge for Pilot as to how he revives Congress in the state, along with inclining party workers in his favour. So far party’s victory has been behind workers enthusiasm and defeat added to their woes.

 Hurdles in Bringing SP-BSP Together

Uttar Pradesh assembly elections are over and all eyes are on general elections of 2019. This was the first time when congress won such a least number of seats. Party’s association with Akhilesh led Samajwadi Party proved futile. Rather it failed pathetically. Irrespective of the fact both announced to contest in general elections together. Congress is willing to contest on 30 seats, while it is insisting Akhilesh to contest for 50 seats. Now the question arises why would Akhilesh prefer to contest only on 50 seats? Secondly is Congress trying to bring Bahujan Samaj Party along? In case Rahul Gandhi successfully handles this task, undoubtedly it will translate into big trouble for the State’s ruling party. But is it possible for Rahul to convince Mayawati to form an alliance. Uttar Pradesh congress has lost its soul. For instance during UP assembly polls suddenly Raj Babbar was named as state’s party president. As a result, the Congress was badly defeated because it did not come under the influence of Raj Babbar. Along with that he had tussles with almost every leader of Samajwadi Party. Despite such pressures he preferred to stay polite. Unfortunately the outcome was against the party.  Due to this episode Raj Babbar was bit hesitant in taking over as President again but was allotted the responsibility by Rahul.

All of those congress leaders who have mass appeal amongst the people of Uttar Pradesh remain ignored by Rahul Gandhi. They are the leaders who have worked sweatingly with Sonia Gandhi but so far none of them have been called upon by his son for discussing the political strategy in the State. Despite repeated requests Rahul denied meeting the mass leaders whose intervention can actually translate into votes. Party workers who have immense faith over Nehru-Gandhi family and the one who wants to support the party; they are disappointed by Rahul’s negligence. As per the party workers, Rahul hardly takes out time for them. In between he remains busy with internet and Whatsapp. Hence thoughtlessly he asks them to get their written complaints submitted to Kanishk. This way of dealing people rarely works in politics but unfortunately it has become a practice in Uttar Pradesh. For the first time Congress won 11 percent votes in Uttar Pradesh which got translated into 28 seats. During the period  Digvijay Singh and Parvez Hashmi  dealt with the political operations in the state. Astonishingly both of them were mercilessly ousted from Uttar Pradesh. Consequently party’s mandate has reached to a new low. Apparently a political head is suppose to have a deeper understanding about the circumstances and needs to be readily available for his party workers. In Gujarat election responsibilities were handed over to Madhusudan Mistry. Although he was unaware about the political scenario in UP but was sent to lookafter the political operation as he is very close confidant of  Rahul. It resulted in nothing short of disaster for Rahul. On the other hand party workers were deeply disappointed.

In Bengal, Congress is gasping. Assembly elections are scheduled for Odisha. There are strong chances of Biju Janata Dal’s victory in the state. Interestingly, Congress is repeating its mistake in Odisha like it did in Gujarat. Leaders who have tremendous potential are leaving the party or rather they are compelled to leave. Even leaders like Srikant Jena are not in touch with Rahul Gandhi. Only leaders like him can make Rahul aware about ground zero.

Misreading of Bihar Performance

Nitish Kumar was the power factor behind the seats which were secured by Congress in Bihar assembly elections. Congress hardly played any role in it. Nitish Kumar himself chalked out that he’ll contest in relatively less seats though Lalu Yadav opposed the move. He was in favor of giving only 10 seats to Congress. Nevertheless Nitish allowed the party to contest for 40 seats. Out of these Congress made it to 28. In fact Congress was pushed for these seats. According to Nitish’s estimate Congress had 5-6 percent votes. In that case leaving Congress could have failed him in defeating BJP. Including Congress ensured his victory since the day one. While media labelled this association as a slip on Nitish’s part. It behaved indifferent to the development and hence seemed unbothered to pay any attention. Undoubtedly Rahul Gandhi’s rally attracted masses but people voted for him on the insistence of Nitish. This made Rahul Gandhi think that Congress won on its own. There were rumours that 14 MLA’s of Congress are set to join JDU. However it could not materialize but it clearly gives an indication that these Legislatures are in touch of Nitish Kumar and can join hands to contest general elections together. Besides there was news about 12 MLA who can merge with JDU but their legal number is ought to be 14. It took some time for their number to rise to 14. By then Nitish formed government with Bhartiya Janata Party.

States In South

Let’s talk about the states in south. Assembly elections are scheduled for Karnataka. Congress is the ruling party in state. The biggest problem for the party here is internal crisis. It is divided among various groups and HD Deve Gowda possesses the balancing power. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah eyes Deve Gowda as the biggest threat irrespective of the fact that he himself became chief minister because of him. Actually Ahmed Patel brought Siddaramaiah to the Congress which became an unforgetful event for Deve Gowda. In case if both the major parties don’t get clear mandate in assembly elections they’ll definitely knock the doors of Gowda. Amid such crisis congress seems unprepared which can cost it in upcoming polls. While in Maharashtra congress pretends to be with Sharad Pawar but in reality this association does not have any chemistry.

Team Rahul Ignorant About Party’s History

These strategies will work only if they are made by the strategists sitting in 28, Akbar road. Further who is going to take the charge of which state, suspense over Rahul’s new team all of these questions remained unanswered. As per the estimate of party’s loyalists Rahul can weave in a new team which will be comparatively younger. His new brigade may include foreign educated analysts, people related to huge companies and persons brought up in west ambience. People who dedicated precious years of their life to Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi have been suddenly reduced to minimums. Rahul blames them for party’s failure in last few years. Hence he is currently focussing on entirely new team. Without considering their ignorance towards party’s past he is ready to give them a break. This message has penetrated among the old loyalists of party. They were the one who chalked out the plan to success. Fatefully their existence does not makes any difference for the newly elected party president. The greatest weakness of Rahul Gandhi is he has locked himself inside the fort. Before taking over as party president he used to go abroad once in every three months. According to my information he has already passed rule regarding his month long foreign vacation after every three months. That too it will not be called leave but he’ll still be working while in abroad. The process for assembly election will kick-off from April-May this year. Polling for assembly elections for five states is set to happen in 2018. Undoubtedly it is no less than a Herculean task but yet to be seen how seriously Rahul takes it up. This will get reflected via frequency of his foreign visit.

Team Rahul

Art of Keeping Critics Along 

Biggest question which is raising its heads is whether Rahul Gandhi takes out time for his old loyalists. Party workers across the country wants to meet him. With him they want to discuss the future strategy, weakness and party’s strength. Rahul is uninformed about the fact that his grandmother used to meet party people often. On top of that, she especially took care of the coterie which was against her. Listening both the front made her aware about prevailing situations. This practice gave her ideas about how weaknesses can be transformed into strength. Same was practiced by his son Rajiv Gandhi for a long. Rahul needs to learn this art from her grandmother that how she always kept her critics along. I don’t think Rahul is aware about the story of Virendra Patil. Indira contested against him in Chikmuglur and later she merged him in her party. There are innumerous such examples.

In order to work on strategies Rahul essentially needs to meet his loyalists and party workers. Whether it is 60 years old or 30 years young man he should  allot them work accordingly. Especially those who have served as parliamentarians they necessarily need to work for the party. If Rahul brigade downs in alloting required job to such people, general elections of 2019 are surely out of his reach. This has already emerged as the greatest sickness of the organization in Gujarat which needs to be immediately identified and corrected. Congress’s fragility can mutate into greatest threat in upcoming assembly elections of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh along with Loksabha polls of 2019. Party president is eneveloped by various challenges. If he would have sorted all these as being the vice-president the situation have been entirely under his control. Additionally he requires to learn one more thing which he hardly noticed in Gujarat. During his campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tossed a new issue everyday. It proved to be a homework for Rahul as he became defensive and busied himself in searching for the answers. Rather he just needed to stuck on a single issue for instance how many schools were constructed in Gujarat for children belonging to weaker section? How many hospitals were constructed? What is the status of development? Why did the farmers commit suicide? What were the factors behind triggering of their agitation? Rather than focussing on such relevant factors Rahul Gandhi headed towards jargons thrown by Narendra Modi and central government. Rahul needs to practice hard for dragging his  opponents on weighty issues. Indira Gandhi was the sharpest leader in this regard. Very smartly she magnetized opponents in her court. She never got trapped in games played by opposition. Usually never lost elections and was assassinated. After being badly defeated in 1977 she made a come back as an entirely changed person and hence rose to the power again in 1980. This is a classic example to learn for Rahul Gandhi. He needs to develop deep understanding on various issues. How to hale his competitors towards his point of departure. Especially bringing in Modi brigade on his own points rather than losing to his one liners.

 

 

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