Team Rahul Plans Strike to Nip ‘Rebellion’ in the Bud
Rahul baiters try to limit his role, clip wings of his advisors and push one of the veterans as Leader of the Opposition
RahulGandhiisfacingthefirstbig test of his leadership. And his close advisors want him to seize the party leadership without allowing t h e Ol d Guard to g rab t he Parliamentaryrump,thepartyorganisation or continue this attack.
The party leadership was openly challenged by a former minister of state in the UPA, Milind Deora, who has attacked Rahul and his advisors. Any reference to Rahul’s advisors is considered, within the party, a euphemism for Rahul himself. In this case, Milind attacked the Congress vice president’s advisors and then went on to target Rahul by saying that, “people who take the advice also have to bear the responsibility.”
The attempt by the anti-Rahul camp, according to those in the know of things, is to limit the role of Rahul, to clip the wings of his advisors and to let one of the veterans take over the Parliamentary party and even the position of the Leader of the Opposition. The Congress Parliamentary Party is expected to meet on Saturday to elect its new leader.
According to insiders, the attack on Rahul is aimed at putting pressure on a Sonia to leave the position of the LoP to the veterans. By blaming Rahul and his advisors for the poll debacle, the veterans want to ensure that they continuetoassertauthorityovertheparty and retain it as a “hard-nosed political entity, programmed to rule, instead of turning it into a woolly-headed NGO led by non-political academics and activists,” as a senior leader put it. Theanti-Rahulcampcomprisesleaders who did not enjoy a personal rapport or great access to Rahul. This camp has old and young leaders and the tag “Old Guard” doesn’t really explain the composition of this strong group that has been inimical to Rahul’s aides like Kanishk Singh and Sachin Rao, and his team of advisors, Jairam Ramesh, Mohan Gopal, Madhusudan Mistry, Mohan Prakash and Ajay Maken. But Team Rahul is confident that finally the Nehru-Gandhis’ leadership will prevail. “Rahul had given an assurance at the last AICC meet that he will take up any role the MPs give him. The position of the LoP has to be decided by the speaker. But the only consensus candidate for the post of the leader of the party in LS will be Rahul. We will also want Sonia as the Congress Parliamentary Party leader,” said a Congress general secretary. The party has won maximum seats from Karnataka. As a group, the Congress-ledUnitedDemocraticFront hadwon12seatsfromKerala.Then,the third biggest Congress contingent is from the north east. So, Rahul’s team is in no mood to accommodate a leader from north like Kamal Nath. “Kharge is a strong leader, who has won 10 elections, and he is a Dalit. Then there are also Veerappa Moily , KV T h o mas a n d Mul l a p a l l i Ramachandran. There are plenty of leaderstochoosefrom.Whyshouldwe restrict ourselves to states where we have been wiped out for many years?” asks a senior Congress functionary. These Congress leaders who are still trying to keep the veterans out of leadership positions want a debate on the performance of the UPA government, corruption allegations and inefficiency and incompetence of the government in its inability to control prices. According to a close aide of Rahul, “price rise and scams led to the drubbing. Did Rahul’s team restrict the number of LPG cylinders? Was it the party that refused to act against price rise? Now, those who were in government say that the party did not act in time. If Sonia or Rahul had acted the same people would have said that they were not allowing PM to function”.