Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s leadership has come under attack. Although the party tried to dismiss the rebellion brewing in Congress-ruled states of Assam in the east and Maharashtra in the west, no one is convinced.
The Nehru-Gandhi family has been a unifying force for the party, but of late, Gandhi has failed to rise to the occasion. Even his “good friend” and ally National Conference’s Omar Abdullah has declined to fight the coming state elections with the Congress in Jammu and Kashmir.
Congress leader A K Antony on Tuesday said, “To blame Rahul Gandhi for the crisis in Assam is wrong.” This comes within hours of former Union Minister Kamal Nath telling reporters: “It is not a rebellion against Rahul at all. The whole issue is some people would not be happy with the chief minister. But a majority is with the chief minister.”
Ever since Hemanta Biswa Sarma in Assam quit as education minister on Monday, as did senior minister Narayan Rane in Maharashtra from Prithviraj Chavan’s ministry, fingers are being pointed at the manner in which the long-pending problem in these states were handled.
Apparently, Sarma was given to believe Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi would be changed and he, having the support of about 38 MLAs would be made the CM, under whom the party would go to the next Assembly polls. However, party sources disclose that at the last moment things changed, as Gogoi managed to get the support of Gandhi.
According to a leader, Gandhi felt dissidents should not be seen to be rewarded. However, allowing the issue to linger has not gone down well with partymen.
The Congress formed an alliance with the National Conference (despite strong opposition from the state unit of the party), thanks to Gandhi‘s friendship with Omar.
A Congress leader said, “We had to even give up our demand to have a Congress chief minister halfway through the five-year term. That was the agreement when we had settled for an alliance but since NC did not want it, we were asked to step back.”
In Haryana, Gandhi’s predisposition towards Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and son Deepinder Singh Hooda, has led the party to turn a blind eye to simmering opposition against the Hoodas. This has alienated leaders such as Birendra Singh, who had refused to fight the polls under Hooda.
Others like Selja Kumari and Inderjit Singh were sidelined; however, the latter had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. On the crisis in the Congress, BJP spokesperson M J Akbar said, “This is a no-confidence movement against Rahul and Sonia Gandhi’s leadership.”
However, some Congress veterans such as Veerappa Moily and All India Congress Committee General Secretary Shakeel Ahmed are taking this in their stride. “We are now out of power and some think that they can have their way in this hour of crisis but Congress has seen several ups and downs.”