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Rediff.com  » News » Many want Rahul to play a more active role in Cong

Many want Rahul to play a more active role in Cong

April 04, 2012 02:22 IST

With the Pradesh Congress Committee presidents in at least eight states yet to be appointed, All India Congress Committee general secretaries and other office-bearers in line to be changed, Congress chief ministers in the firing range with party MLAs wanting a change, a large number of gubernatorial appointments yet to be made and a reshuffle of the council of ministers on the cards, Congress president Sonia Gandhi appears to be in no hurry to enforce the required changes with agitated party men now openly criticising the status quo approach of the party leadership.

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, while slipping into an unrecognised corner after the more than poor showing in Uttar Pradesh, appears to be surfacing now, having called a meeting of party MLAs and others on April 6.

Apart from the 28 MLAs who have won in UP, he has also called those who emerged second in the elections. He would also be touring their constituencies for a thanksgiving rally.

While the meeting is expected to be an introspective effort with partymen freely speaking their mind, it is learnt that AICC general secretary in charge of UP Digvijaya Singh, who is away in the United States, will not be present at the meeting. Along with that Mohan Prakash has not been invited. Nor have been the battalion of central ministers from UP who had a great deal to say during the elections, much to the discomfort of the party and the people.

A number of senior leaders want Rahul Gandhi to dump his involvement with the NSUI and the Youth Congress and want him to take on a more active role in running the affairs of the Congress party. With Sonia Gandhi unable or unwilling to take crucial decisions, the feeling is growing that this inertia is hurting the party, and bringing down the morale of the workers, and even senior leaders.

The fact that Rahul Gandhi believes in the inner party system of elections, say Congress leaders, is a healthy sign. In sharp contrast, Sonia Gandhi was quick to stop the practice of holding elections to the Congress Working Committee, the highest decision making body of the Congress.

The elections to half of the CWC posts was a challenge for Congress leaders to prove their popularity and mass base within the organisation and helped to bring up leaders who had wide networking amongst party-men in various states. It was also a way of bringing to the top men and women of enterprise who were go getters in their own right and not dependent on the leadership to be labeled as "leaders".

But under the influence of her coterie, which consisted of men and women who could never win an election, either inside or outside the party, and who were threatened by this form of party democracy, they persuaded Sonia Gandhi soon after she became the Congress president to stop the practice of holding elections.

Later she made the CWC into a defunct body which was only called to pass obituary resolutions and where all meaningful debate and discussion had been curtailed simply because the leadership did not want to hear the wide ranging views of leaders who had been sourced from various states, caste and class structures.

Many of them were grass rooters with a lifetime experience in practical politics, but bit-by-bit most of them were sidelined.

Instead, the Congress president put in place the Congress Core Committee consisting of five persons, most of whom including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are from the Rajya Sabha, and it is this core committee which takes a decision on every issue under the sun.

The fact that so much of wisdom has been vested in such a small group of leaders is evident by the fact that most key issues in the government and the party remain unresolved and chaos persists on most fronts.

Even as Rahul Gandhi limited himself to the Youth Congress and NSUI, he did hold elections in these bodies to elect their presidents; and while the men and women chosen were certainly not the best and the system was considerably faulty, it did drive home the point that Rahul is not afraid of elections and does not run away from taking decisions.

The fact that Rahul Gandhi spent a great deal of time in the heat and dust of Uttar Pradesh elections is again an indicator that despite the criticism against him, he is willing to learn and is not afraid of hard work.

After the huge drubbing the Congress received in Bihar where it won only four assembly seats, the state PCC president Mohd Kaisar submitted his resignation to the leadership. But one and a half years after that, he is still continuing in his post, though rather shakily and uncertain because no one told him whether his resignation has been rejected or is simply in the pending file on Sonia Gandhi's desk.

On Tuesday Bihar Congress men trooped into Delhi and demanded to know the status of their PCC president. They said that the leadership only wakes up to their plight 6 months before elections, by which time it is too little, too late and no one is sure of what is going on.

On top of that, they say they have been given an AICC general secretary who has made matters much worse for the party.

Similarly, MLA and workers from Maharashtra are also coming to New Delhi in batches. The MRCC president Kripashankar Singh has left under a cloud and there is so far no replacement.

While some partymen are hectically lobbying for the post, others are trying to stop those who are lobbying while yet another group is only preparing dossiers on all those who are in the race. No body is interested in asking the MLAs what they want.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has apparently angered the bulk of the MLAs and ministers by having a 'touch-me-not' attitude, and wants the Maharashtra PCC president changed. However, even this issue stands unresolved.

These days the offices in the AICC are almost vacant. There is no major activity in the party office with the AICC wearing a dull and jaded look even as there is an air of uncertainty at what lies ahead for the grand old party which has faced and overcome much bigger battles in the past.

Renu Mittal in New Delhi