It’s not clear if strong show of senior Congmen at EC has ‘enlightened or ‘unnerved’ Rahul Gandhi
New Delhi: Congress leader Ahmed Patel’s spectacular win could act as a ‘corrective’ in the internalequationsofhispartycaught in a drift following a lingering leadership transition. Congress leaders said that the skills Patel displayed in the pitched RS battle should be a lesson ‘Team Rahul’ should appreciate and emulate. It was such skills the ‘old guard’ acquired from decades of experience that helped the Congress in the Sonia Gandhi era.
However, it’s not clear if Patel’s battle and the strong show of senior Congress leaders against Union Cabinet ministers at the Election Commission has ‘enlightened or ‘unnerved’ Rahul Gandhi, known to be at home with professional imagemakersandCongressconverts. The political proportion Patel’s battle acquired was summed up by Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut: “Had the government and BJP deployed
at Dokalam the kind of forces it deployed in Gujarat, the Chinese army would have fled.” Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said on Wednesday “I am happy and relieved with his (Patel) victory… thank God for the Election Commission”, but, in contrast, Rahul Gandhi remained silent on the issue, despite Patel thanking the Congress leadership and workers and adding that “under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi” Congress will gain in strength.
Patel’s vintage show comes at a critical time for Congress. “His victory should silence those paint- ing senior leaders as spent forces and a burden on Rahulji and aspiring youth leaders. Congress needs a young leadership propelled by the experienced,” said a party MP. Many others said the realist in Sonia Gandhi would want her ‘Generals’ to pilot a harmonised transition and nurture the new leadership, especially with party pittedagainstTeamModi.Butthere is a palpable sense of impatience among leaders on Rahul Gandhi’s ways: His inability to be at home withseasonedleaders,hisfailureto be a focused politician and parliamentarianafternearly15years,his ‘vanishing acts’, ‘talent hunt’ and dithering in decision-making.
Many attribute Congress’ Punjab win to Captain Amarinder Singh asking Gandhi to accept his leadership or risk a split. In poll-bound Himachal, CM Virbhadra Singh got the AICC to clarify recently “he will lead the party to polls”. In MP, Gandhi has the choice of teaming up with the Digvijaya-Kamal Nath axis or risk another defeat by choosing those leaders with whom he has a comfort level. Rajasthan, Kerala and Haryana too have veterans Ashok Gehlot, Ommen ChandyandBhupinderHoodawho are restless. The case is almost the same elsewhere. However, it’s anybody’s guess whether Rahul will get his act together.