Rahul may not Want Leader of Op­po­si­tion Role

The Economic Times - - Front Page - RO­HINI SINGH

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

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