'Kesri wants Sonia to know who the real boss is'
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
Apprehensive of Sonia Gandhi's growing influence
in the Congress, party president Sitaram Kesri asserted
his authority on Friday by declaring the names of the candidates
for three parliamentary constituencies
"He (Kesri) has virtually given notice to his critics with this move," a source close to Kesri told Rediff On The NeT, "He wants Sonia to know who the real boss is."
Senior leader R K Dhawan is among the three named.
Kesri's assertion comes in the wake of the
strident demand of Rajiv Gandhi loyalists to have
Sonia contest from the New Delhi constituency (from where Dhawan will contest).
Ever since she entred the fray, Kesri has been acting very agitated. So agitated, in fact, that he had shied away when mediamen asked him whether he favoured the move.
"Now, as the virtual hysteria in the Congress grows in Sonia's favour, Kesri knows he would be swept away and dumped
in the dustbin of history if he did not do something," observers say.
And hence this belligerent attempt at assertion.
Kesri's announcement will have two significant effects. First, the move
will greatly dampen the spirits of the Sonia loyalists as it spells out in crystal clear terms that Kesri, despite his assorted theatrics ('Sonia is welcome as the prime ministerial candidate'), is very much in running for the PM-ship.
Second, Kesri's action makes it clear the welcome being accorded to the lady is not
all-embracing but confined to a section of the party. Hence, the
Bharatiya Janata Party and United Front leadership are likely to breathe easy, taking relief from the fact that the 'Sonia Juggernaut' has been stopped by no less a person
than the Congress chief himself.
Indications have also emerged that Kesri's camp is further consolidating its overall hold on the party and that,
ridiculous as it might seem, it would not protect the political
chinks in Sonia's armour. Whether the camp's studied indifference to her would
also extend to the Bofors issue is yet to be seen. However, Kesri's followers have indicated that the party chief is likely
to unleash other measures to clip her
Sonia's loyalists, for their part, have begun a whisper-campaign
that the party chief is in league with the BJP and UF leaders to tarnish
Madameji's image. However, the grapevine continues, keeping in tune with the Nehru-Gandhi
practice, she has not chosen to react to this
Sonia should not contest poll: Laloo
Congress leaders hold consultations with Sonia on campaign schedule
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