Rahul may not Want Leader of Opposition Role
Reduced to a parliamentary rump, with only 44 Lok Sabha MPs, Congress is in the midst of rethinking its House strategy and one option, some senior exCabinet ministers told ET, is that Rahul Gandhi won’t be the leader of Opposition. These exministers spoke to ET on the condition they not be identified. “We are getting indications from Rahul Gandhi’s core team that he may not want to be the leader of Opposition,” one exminister said. “Rahul would want to focus on organisational revamp,” this person added. He also said a final decision on this matter has not been taken and that the ultimate call will be taken by Rahul himself. And there are no plans for an immediate elevation of Priyanka Gandhi in the party. Many Congress workers openly and more than a few party leaders privately have asked for Priyan- ka to be given a bigger role. ET has also learnt that Monday’s Congress Working Committee meeting may witness “a resignation drama”, as an exminister put it. “But the leadership will remain unchanged.”
“Who will lead Congress…picking anyone will lead others who think they are better suited to revolt,” the ex-minister said. The CWC meeting may not also see radical decisions such as sacking of Congress general secretaries Jairam Ramesh, Madhusudan Mistry and Ajay Maken, and Rahul Gandhi’s key advisor Mohan Gopal. Ramesh, Mistry, Maken and Gopal are being seen by most Congressmen as being the most responsible for crafting a strategy that led to Congress’s worst Lok Sabha performance. “There’s plenty of anger against these leaders,” another ex-minister said, “but the party may not take a knee-jerk action.” “These leaders will be divested of some of their current responsibilities but those decisions may be taken during subsequent meetings.” Another ex-minister said, “Rahul has never been keen to devote most of his time to parliamentary duties…his preference has been to play an organisational role…even in the last Lok Sabha, Rahul didn’t attend Parliament regularly and made very few interventions.” In an interview to an private TV channel, party leader Kamal Nath called for direct elec- tions to CWC. Congress MPs being considered for the job of the leader of the Opposition include ex-ministers Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kamal Nath, Veerappa Moily, Malikarjun Kharge and Amrinder Singh, who defeated Arun Jaitley in Amritsar. “Jyotiraditya would be the best option,” a minister quoted earlier said. He also said Scindia’s advantages are that he’s “articulate and young”. “These are good qualities for a leader of Opposition when our numbers are few.” Kamal Nath is the other serious contender, this minister said. As for the leader of Congress in the Rajya Sabha, possible candidates are Karan Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad and AK Antony, another ex-minister ET spoke to said. He also said that “Congress has good numbers in the Rajya Sabha and it is important that we have an experienced leader”. “BJP doesn’t have a Rajya Sabha majority and it is therefore crucial for us to have an effective House leader,” he added.
Ramesh, Mistry, Maken and Gopal are being seen by most Congressmen as being the most responsible for crafting a strategy