Hit­ting Re­fresh

Rahul Gandhi sets about re­build­ing the Congress in Gu­jarat with a young team in charge

India Today - - STATES - By Uday Mahurkar

En­cour­aged by the close run his party gave the BJP in the Gu­jarat assem­bly polls in De­cem­ber last year, Congress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi’s mis­sion, of late, ap­pears to be to re­build the party in Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s home state, ahead of next year’s gen­eral elec­tions. Gu­jarat had given the BJP all its 26 Lok Sabha seats in 2014.

That most state Congress heavy­weights, such as Shak­tis­inh Go­hil, former chief min­is­ter Chi­manbhai Pa­tel’s son Sid­dharth Pa­tel and former Union min­is­ter Tushar Amarsinh Chaud­hary, lost the assem­bly polls is pos­si­bly mak­ing Rahul’s task eas­ier. It has al­lowed him to ap­point younger lead­ers in key po­si­tions, which he has long been ad­vo­cat­ing. Forty-two-year-old Amit Chavda, a dy­namic OBC leader, has been picked to re­place Bharatsinh Solanki as the Congress’s state pres­i­dent. Paresh Dhanani, 41, who won the Am­reli assem­bly seat against the BJP’s Bavkub­hai Und­had, has been ap­pointed Congress Leg­is­la­ture Party (CLP) chief and Leader of the Op­po­si­tion in the state assem­bly.

Last month, Rahul made 43-yearold Raju Satav AICC sec­re­tary in charge of Gu­jarat. Satav rep­re­sents the Hin­goli Lok Sabha seat from Ma­ha­rash­tra and is known to be a very vo­cal Congress leader in Par­lia­ment. He is also an ar­dent sup­porter of Nar­mada Bachao An­dolan leader Medha Patkar, back­ing the NBA’s cam­paign against rais­ing the height of the Sar­dar Sarovar dam to 138 me­tres.

Satav, who’s viewed as a Rahul con­fi­dant, had last year writ­ten to Patkar de­scrib­ing the Nar­mada dam project as a vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights in the garb of de­vel­op­ment. He even posted a copy of his let­ter on Twit­ter. The tweet came back to haunt him af­ter his ap­point­ment and was deleted. The BJP’s vo­cif­er­ous tirade de­nounc­ing Satav and the Congress of be­ing “anti-Nar­mada” and “anti-Gu­jarat”, though, did not pre­vent Dhanani from com­ing out in sup­port of Patkar. He said it was the pres­sure mounted by Patkar that had en­sured proper re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of dam ous­tees, en­abling the gov­ern­ment to raise the dam’s height.

NANDAN DAVE

NEW LOOK Rahul Gandhi and Amit Chavda (right) dur­ing the Gu­jarat poll cam­paign

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