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Rahul falters in his choices

Last updated on: April 1, 2013 23:44 IST

Rahul falters in his choices

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Is Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi listening to the right people before making crucial decisions? Renu Mittal reports.

Is Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi goofing up?

Rahul has been busy appointing Pradesh Congress Committee presidents as a prelude to the expected All India Congress Committee reshuffle, but his decisions have not gone well with leaders and cadres.

Take, for instance, Ashok Chaudhary's appointment as the Bihar Congress Committee president.

Chaudhary replaces Mehmood Ali Qaisar who resigned after the Congress's disastrous performance in Bihar where it won only four assembly seats.

The appointment of Chaudhary, a Maha Dalit from the Youth Congress whose father was a senior partyman, has upset the powerful Bhumihar community in Bihar.

Chaudhary is reportedly the prime accused in the murder of former Congress MP and powerful Bhumihar leader Rajo Singh. He was arrested in connection with the case once.

Chaudhary was on his way to Patna airport to catch a flight to New Delhi to lobby Rahul's durbar when he received a call from party colleague Shakeel Ahmed informing him about his appointment.

Besides the murder case, Chaudhary and his wife allegedly face a CBI inquiry regarding a Rs 4.5 crore (Rs 45 million) bank loan default.

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Bhumihar Congress leaders are also upset over the manner in which Youth Congress President Sanjeev Kumar Singh, who belongs to the community, was removed four hours after he was elected to the post.

Youth Congress Vice-President Kumar Ashish, who was allegedly involved in the infamous engineering admission case popularly known as the 'medha ghotala', was retained though local newspapers were flush with pictures of him in handcuffs.

Bihar leaders say Shakeel Ahmed was instrumental in Chaudhary's promotion as well as the decision to retain Kumar Ashish. The role of senior party leaders Jagdish Tytler and Oscar Fernandes is also being reported.

Some quarters suggest that Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav too may have put in a good word for Ashok Chaudhary through his good friends in the Congress.

Sources say the Bhumihar community, which was looking to support the Congress party, is angry and that this resentment is likely to escalate in coming days.

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Another decision that has raised eyebrows is C M Ibrahim's appointment as chairman of the Karnataka election strategy committee.

The controversial Ibrahim joined the Congress after parting ways with H D Deve Gowda's Janata Dal-Secular party.

With the Congress doing all it can to register a win in Karnataka after the Bharatiya Janata Party's Yeddyurappa fiasco, Ibrahim's appointment is viewed with much disbelief and reportedly sends a negative message through the party rank and file.

Some sections say Rahul's agenda may be to promote a Muslim face in the run-up to the Karnataka assembly election despite Ibrahim's disputed credentials.

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The feedback from sections of the party is that Rahul has not understood from where he should tap information for potential candidates and has gone by the advice of some leaders who may have been managing a particular state.

In the case of Bihar, for example, he sought Tytler's opinion as he was earlier in charge of the Congress party in the state. Tytler recommended only one name, that of Ashok Chaudhary.

Bihar leaders say they were not consulted because of which Rahul could not get the required feedback on how this appointment would affect the substantial Bhumihar vote bank in the state. The Passi community to which Chaudhary belongs number only around 700,000.

In Karnataka, where the selection of candidates is currently on, sources say Congress President Sonia Gandhi is unhappy with several candidates.

Sonia wants the list to be revised. That is why the Congress candidates have not been declared so far.

With Sonia likely to travel abroad for a health check-up, sources say most of the Congress nominees have been finalised.



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