It’s not clear if strong show of se­nior Cong­men at EC has ‘en­light­ened or ‘un­nerved’ Rahul Gandhi

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

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.

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